Youngstown native Maureen McGovern launches into an American songbook of big-band and Broadway classics at todays University of Akron JazzFest 2007. Accompanied by the schools Jazz Ensemble, shell work her way through standards like Ill Be Seeing You and Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead. Its great, feel-good music, says McGovern. Theres a freedom, joy, and a great sense of fun. Its hard to find songs that joyous.
McGovern gives props to her late dad (who sang in barbershop quartets) for turning her on to musical idols Ella Fitzgerald, Judy Garland, and Frank Sinatra. When she graduated from Boardman High School in 1967, McGovern admits she was an odd duck for favoring World War II-era music over the pop tunes her classmates were listening to. I grew up with the Beatles, which I loved as well, but I always gravitated toward literate music, she says. The irony is that there was this uplifting music written when the country was on the brink of war.
After snagging an Academy Award for The Poseidon Adventures The Morning After in 1972, McGovern recorded another Oscar winner a couple of years later -- We May Never Love Like This Again from The Towering Inferno. She soon became known as the Disaster-Theme Queen. I still get letters that show how much the songs mean to people and how they get them through a death, divorce, or some traumatic experience, she says. I thought, If thats the power music has, I should harness that into music with a purpose.
These days, McGovern splits her time between running a foundation that provides uplifting tunes to terminally ill patients and touring in support of her latest album, Help Is on the Way. Were all water and vibrations, and we respond to music in deep, profound ways, she says. Music is part of complimentary medicine for the mind, body, and spirit.
Sun., March 11, 3 p.m.