Heavenly Johnny Mathis

Dionne Warwick celebrates the voice and career of Johnny Mathis celebrating 50 years in show business.

Mathis is one of the last in a long line of traditional male vocalists who emerged before the rock era of 1960s.

'Heavenly Johnny Mathis' features an exclusive in-depth interview with the singer exploring his illustrious career and his recollections are the core of each revealing programme.

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0120061222

Dionne Warwick celebrates the voice and career of Johnny Mathis celebrating 50 years in show business.

Mathis is one of the last in a long line of traditional male vocalists who emerged before the rock era of 1960s.

'Heavenly Johnny Mathis' features an exclusive in-depth interview with the singer exploring his illustrious career and his recollections are the core of each revealing programme.How Mathis grew up in a religious and musical family of the 1930s and went on to study with an opera coach prior to his teenage years.

In September 1955, 19-year-old Johnny landed a job singing weekends at a San Francisco club where he was spotted by the head of A&R at Columbia Records.

Six months later, he was in New York recording his first album of jazz oriented standards.

Later, he scored hits with Wonderful, Wonderful, It's Not for Me to Say and his first US no 1 Chances Are.

He explains that he chose to focus on the burgeoning album market and recalls the advent of rock 'n' roll and how he thought Elvis would finish his career, but he was able to steer his own distinctive musical path.

0120111204

Paul Gambaccini celebrates the voice and career of Johnny Mathis, one of the last in a long line of traditional male vocalists who emerged before the rock era of 1960s.

Though he scored a flurry of chart hits in the late 50s, Mathis later crossed over to album market, where he enjoyed considerable success.

While he concentrated on albums of show tunes and standards during the 60s, he began incorporating more contemporary tunes by the 70s and remained a popular concert attraction well into the 90s and today.

Programme one hears how Mathis grew up in a religious and musical family and went on to study with an opera coach prior to his teenage years.

In September 1955, age 19, Johnny landed a job singing weekends at a San Francisco club where he was spotted by the head of A&R at Columbia Records.

Six months later he was in New York recording his first album of jazz oriented standards.

Later Columbia placed Johnny under the supervision of producer Mitch Miller and Mathis scored hits with Wonderful, Wonderful, It's Not For Me To Say and his first U.S number one, Chances Are.

From that point on, he concentrated strictly on lush ballads for adult contemporary listeners.

Though he charted often, half of his career Top Ten output in America occurred in 1957 alone.

As he explains he chose to focus on the burgeoning album market - much like Frank Sinatra, his main rival during the late 50s - and he recalls the advent of rock 'n' roll and how he thought Elvis would finish his career.

1958 saw the release of Mathis first festive album Merry Christmas, a holiday he's been closely associated with through his career.

This documentary first broadcast in 2006, when Mathis was celebrating 50 years in show business.

Paul Gambaccini celebrates the voice and career of Johnny Mathis.

0220061229

Mathis talks through some of his biggest recordings of the 1960s and 70s and how he adapted his musical style.

For many music fans, his music came together on the 1959 American album Heavenly, which spent five years in the US charts.

The following year Mathis was in the UK singles charts four times, most notably with Misty and My Love for You.

In the UK, he was still being sold to an adult audience on the strength of his show tunes.

But as beat boom gave way to the rock and pop records of the late 60s, Mathis changed labels and left his long-time home at Columbia Records for the presumably greener pastures of Mercury Records, which he admits was a mistake and his chart success faded.

In 1973, there was a change of direction as Mathis worked with some of the new breed of R&B producers, and his 1976 version of When a Child Is Born went on to sell six million copies worldwide.

0220111211

Paul Gambaccini continues to celebrate the voice and career of Johnny Mathis, one of the last in a long line of traditional male vocalists who emerged before the rock era of 1960s.

In programme two, Mathis talks us through his some of his biggest recordings and how he adapted his musical style.

For many music fans his music came together on the 1959 American album Heavenly, which spent five years in the U.S charts.

The following year Mathis was in the UK singles charts four times, most notably with Misty and My Love For You.

In the UK he was still being sold to an adult audience on the strength of his show tunes.

However as the 60s beat boom gave way to the rock and pop records of the late 60s, Mathis changed record labels.

As Mathis admits "this was a mistake" and as the chart success faded, Mathis devoted himself to more live work.

In 1973 there was a change of direction, when Mathis worked with some of the new breed of R&B producers, resulting in the album I'm Coming Home produced by Thom Bell and his first hit in 12 years.

It's the quality of the songs that that keep Mathis at the top of his game and in 1976 his tender version of When A Child Is Born went on to sell six million copies worldwide, becoming a festive favourite for radio stations across the globe.

Paul Gambaccini continues to celebrate the voice and career of Johnny Mathis.

03 LAST20070105
03 LAST20111218

Paul Gambaccini concludes his look at the voice and career of Johnny Mathis, one of the last in a long line of traditional male vocalists who emerged before the rock era of 1960s.

Mathis had scored two major international hits in the late 70s but, as he explains, he experienced a new burst of popularity with his 1978 hit with Too Much, Too Little, Too Late.

This song was a duet with singer Deniece Williams, and he went on to record an album with the singer which charted worldwide.

Mathis has rarely been influenced by the trends of the time but he admits "he couldn't resist" the disco boom of the late 70s and his UK hit Gone Gone Gone demonstrates reveals he took to the disco beat with ease.

By the 80s, Mathis enjoyed album success both here and in America as he once again recorded the music of the best writers and arrangers.

He paid homage to his greatest influence on the album Unforgettable - a Tribute To Nat King Cole" (1983) and recorded with Henry Mancini on a collection called The Hollywood Musicals (1986).

This documentary first broadcast in 2006, when Mathis was celebrating 50 years in show business.

A relaxed and informative talker, Johnny gives an insight into his remarkable ability to maintain his appeal and pursue his musical goals despite often countervailing trends.

Paul Gambaccini concludes his look at the voice and career of Johnny Mathis.