Loonis McGlohon

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A talented pianist, composer, and lyricist who collaborated with the American composer Alec Wilder.
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b. 29 September 1921, Ayden, North Carolina, USA, d. 25 January 2002, Charlotte, North Carolina, USA. After graduating from East Carolina University, McGlohon turned his piano-playing talents into a professional career, but was interrupted by military service between 1942 and 1945, during which time he worked as a pianist-arranger in the US Army Air Force. In 1949, he joined Jimmy Dorsey’s orchestra and was also briefly with Ray McKinley and Jack Teagarden, but from 1950 he was deeply involved in radio and television as a producer and presenter, although he continued to play frequently and also to write music. He formed his own trio for club and concert engagements and with the group has appeared all across the USA, including three appearances at Carnegie Hall, and also in Japan, China, Singapore, France, Italy and the UK. He has accompanied several singers including Helen O’Connell, Judy Garland, in 1964 and 1966, and was musical director for the legendary Mabel Mercer (1978-80), and Eileen Farrell (1981-96).

His compositions include operas, musicals, revues, a children’s cantata, A Child’s Christmas, which was recorded and released in 1974, and numerous songs, among which are ‘Blackberry Winter’, in collaboration with Alec Wilder, which has been recorded by numerous singers including Mark Murphy, Mike Campbell, Teddi King, Vic Juris and Marlene VerPlanck, ‘A Long Night’ and ‘South To A Warmer Place’, both also with Wilder and which were recorded by Frank Sinatra, and ‘Songbird’, recorded more than 30 times by artists such as George Shearing and Robert Farnon, Jackie Cain, VerPlanck, Farrell and Wesla Whitfield. In addition to Wilder, his songwriting collaborators have included Billy VerPlanck, Hugh Martin and Marian McPartland. For several years, McGlohon served as Program Director for WBT Radio Station in Charlotte, North Carolina. On a regular radio show for National Public Radio he introduced many fine singers and instrumentalists and collaborated with Wilder on a series based on the latter’s book, The American Popular Song, and a subsequent series, American Popular Singers, hosted by Eileen Farrell. This show featured artists such as Carrie Smith, Anita Ellis, Johnny Hartman, VerPlanck, Barbara Lea, King, Mercer, Hugh Shannon and Thelma Carpenter.

Virtually the house pianist for Audiophile Records, McGlohon accompanied many singers, including albums by Dick Haymes, David Allyn, Margaret Whiting, Smith, Lea, Dardanelle, Maxine Sullivan, Farrell, Campbell, Joyce Breach, Daryle Ryce and VerPlanck, and he recorded with Farnon and the London Philharmonic Orchestra. With VerPlanck, he recorded a particularly fine set of Wilder songs and also You’d Better Love Me, that featured music by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane. In a liner note for this album, which was made in 1976, VerPlanck wrote of her first encounter with McGlohon the pianist, ‘beautiful chords, beautiful technique, and lovely soulful playing.’ McGlohon founded a number of scholarships and a school of music and a theatre bear his name. Appreciation of McGlohon both inside and outside the world of popular music was evidenced by numerous honours, including four doctorates, nomination to the National Academy of Television and Science Hall of Fame, and a tribute in 1998 at New York’s Lincoln Center where many of the artists who had played with him and sung his songs were eager to appear.