I am hereby cheating and borrowing from my review of Maye after her Carnegie Hall concert this past March of 2023. At that performance she got 15 standing ovations the first was just for showing up.
From that review: In 2016, Betsyann Faiella interviewed Maye for the Clyde Fitch Report. Faiella asked what Maye would do if she won the $20,000,000 lottery. Maye said, “Oh, I’d hire the New York Pops, rent Carnegie Hall and do my symphony concert. I’d buy an apartment in New York City, and I’d have a party! I’m a party girl.”
Anyway – in case you have been living under a rock for the past few years – here is the skinny on Marilyn Maye. She is from Kansas and has been singing since 1931 when she was three years old. That’s a lot of singing. She was just coming of age in the 1960’s when those damn Beatles showed up and she was more or less sidelined. Which only means she was not performing in New York. She was everywhere else, honing her craft and gifting her audiences.
In 2005 she was invited to perform at the New York Cabaret Convention. While she was an astonishing success she did not return again until 2006. This time Billy Stritch invited her to do a show at the newly opened Metropolitan Room downtown. Sur, why not? When she arrived at the venue there was a line of people waiting, and Maye wondered who else was performing.
No-body. And after that it was all hands on deck. May decided to invest in performing in New York. It took money, and time, and patience. She was 78 when she made this shift. Hello? This is inspiration speaking to you!
I have seen Ms. Maye at least a dozen times. She is the one entertainer of whom I never tire. We, Barbara Cooke was up there as well. And what these people have in common is that they age in a way that enriches them and their art. Maye gets better when one would think that is not possible.
Maye has changed things up a little this time by beginning with a stroll through the audience. I think she is tired of seeing us only through the glare of the stage spotlight. She needs a little one on one. Hand touching hands. Hugs. Hello’s. Eventually she makes it to the stage where her posse (Ted Firth – Music Director and Piano, Tom Hubbard – Bass and the extraordinary Mark McLean – percussion) awaits. Maye is known for her medleys and the first one on the subject of Faces/Smiling/Love and she pours the music over us like a balm. “You are safe here,” she seems to tell us.
Don’t we know it.
My Fair Lady music is the next honoree leading into “What The World Needs Now [is love sweet love]” after which she commented “We have enough of everything else.” and boom I heard the song in an entirely different way. This segued into “Let There Be Love” without a ripple.
Praise went to Steve Allen (and yes there were people who remembered the original host of “The Tonight Show” who championed her and her work. IT must ave been some good support juju if she is still going 50 years later. “This Could Be The Start Of Something Big” that featured solos by the posse that showed off their many talents with grace and precision.
Her interpretations of “Lazy Afternoon” made me miss the summer; “The Autumn Leaves” and “When October Goes” submerged us into the melancholy that we love about fall.
She closed with her signatures “The Secret of Life” by James Taylor.
The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time.
Any fool can do it, there ain’t nothing to it.
Nobody knows how we got to the top of the hill.
But since we’re on our way down, we might as well enjoy the ride.
Logic tells us Marilyn Maye, at 95 years, must be on the way down. But the way she works a room, it feels like up to me.
Perhaps that is because she follows it up with “Heres To Life” (Butler and Molinary)
For there’s no yes in yesterdayAnd who knows what tomorrow brings or takes away As long as I’m still in the game I want to play For laughs for life for love
DO YOURSELF A FAVOR – SEE HER BEFORE SHE LEAVES TOWN.
Marilyn Maye at 54 Below various dates October – November. Schedule and tickets here.