Rosemary Clooney

The Last Concert

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Rosemary Clooney's performance at the Neal S. Blaisdell Concert Hall in Honolulu, HI, on November 16, 2001, backed by the big band Big Kahuna & the Copa Cat Pack and the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra, turned out to be her final show before her death on June 29, 2002. Not surprisingly, though, there isn't anything about it to suggest finality specifically. But, as an appearance by a veteran performer with a long career to draw upon, it necessarily had a retrospective feel and, occurring only two months after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, it concluded with a reverent tone, Clooney's first recording of "God Bless America." Following an instrumental overture canvassing some of her better known songs (none of which she went on to actually sing in the show), Clooney opened with "Sentimental Journey," the first of her borrowings from other "girl singers," since it is associated with Doris Day from her period with Les Brown's band. The song set the stage for a collection of standards written by the likes of Comden and Green and Jule Styne ("Just in Time"), Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg ("Happiness Is Just a Thing Called Joe"), Hoagy Carmichael ("Rockin' Chair"), Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II ("Ol' Man River"), George and Ira Gershwin ("They Can't Take That Away From Me"), and Irving Berlin ("God Bless America"). Clooney also paid tribute to other singers, including her sister Betty Clooney, Bing Crosby, and Frank Sinatra. The album contains many of Clooney's stage remarks, which are punctuated with self-deprecating humor. (She notes, for example, that the last time she played Hawaii was the day it became a state and now she is back "by popular demand.") On the whole, the show is a typically wonderful Clooney show that just happens to have been her last.

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