Dawn Upshaw

Dawn Upshaw Sings Rodgers & Hart

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Dawn Upshaw proves to be an exception to the general rule that opera singers can't sing popular music on this enjoyable effort. She gets considerable help from show tune expert Tommy Krasker, the producer, and from some excellent arrangers and orchestrators, who come up with interesting ideas to give new interpretations to old Rodgers & Hart classics. "Sing for Your Supper," for example, finds her overdubbing herself into a chirpy girl group in a vocal arrangement by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane. She also enjoys some strong guest spots from David Garrison ("Thou Swell") and Audra McDonald ("Why Can't I?"). But it's Upshaw herself who carries the album by singing for meaning and not attempting to turn the songs into arias, unlike many of her peers. She generally avoids the Rodgers & Hart songs that have quirky rhymes, and she can't bring herself to pronounce "holler" "holla" in order to get it to rhyme with "lollapalooza." But her treatments of the standards are excellent, if light, with none of the maudlin tone that some singers bring to "He Was Too Good to Me" and "It Never Entered My Mind," for instance. And she has dug up some good obscurities, notably "Ev'ry Sunday Afternoon," a song others have skipped over, probably because the lyrics may be hard to fathom (they celebrate both Sunday afternoon and Thursday night) unless one realizes they refer to the scheduled time-offs for servants. Even given that there is no dearth of albums devoted to the songs of Rodgers & Hart, this is a good one.

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