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BARBARA COOK's silvery soprano voice, purity of tone, and warm presence have delighted audiences around the world for more than 50 years. Considered "Broadway's favorite ingénue" during the heyday of the Broadway musical, Cook then launched a second career as a concert and recording artist, soaring from one professional peak to another.
Whether on the stages of major international venues throughout the world or in the intimate setting of New York's Café Carlyle, Cook's popularity continues to thrive, as evidenced by her 1997 birthday concert with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at the Albert Hall in London, a succession of triumphant returns to Carnegie Hall where she made a legendary solo concert debut in 1975, an ever-growing mantle of honors including the Tony, Grammy, Drama Desk, and New York Drama Critics Circle awards, her citation as a Living New York Landmark, and her induction into the Theatre Hall of Fame.
In January 2006, Cook achieved yet another career high when New York's Metropolitan Opera Company presented the artist in her solo concert debut, making her the first female pop singer to be presented by the Met in the company's 123-year history. The sold-out concert was recorded and released as a live performance CD on DRG Records. In addition to her October 2007 performance at Walt Disney Concert Hall, she will celebrate her 80th birthday with a concert in November at New York's Avery Fisher Hall, where she will perform with the New York Philharmonic.
In 2004, Cook's concert, "Barbara Cook's Broadway," was hailed by both the Associated Press and USA Today as one of the ten best theater productions of the year. Following the Lincoln Center Theater run, Cook premiered "Barbara Cook's Broadway" in London's West End in May 2004. She returned to perform the show for two sold-out encore engagements at Lincoln Center that summer before returning to London with the show for a second time in September. The concert was recorded live and released on DRG Records.
"Barbara Cook's Broadway" followed close on the heels of her earlier triumph, the critically acclaimed "Barbara Cook in Mostly Sondheim." Cook premiered the concert at Carnegie Hall in February 2001 before taking it to London's West End, where it was the smash hit of London's 2001 summer season, eventually garnering Cook two Olivier Award nominations. She went on to perform "Mostly Sondheim" at Lincoln Center Theater for a sold-out fourteen-week run, winning a Tony Award nomination for Best Theatrical Event, and has performed the show in major cities throughout the United States. DRG released a live performance CD of the Carnegie Hall performance before filming a stage performance that was released as a DVD on DRG/Koch Entertainment.
A native of Atlanta, Barbara Cook made her Broadway debut in 1951 as the ingénue lead in the musical Flahooley. She subsequently played Ado Annie in the City Center revival of Oklahoma!, followed by a national tour of that hit show. In 1954, her performance as Carrie Pipperidge in Rodgers and Hammerstein's Carousel led to the role of Hilda Miller in the original production of Plain and Fancy. Cook went on to create the role of Cunegonde in the original production of Leonard Bernstein's Candide. This was followed by her creations of two classic roles in the America musical theater - Marian the Librarian in the premiere production of Meredith Willson's The Music Man, a performance which earned her the Tony Award, and Amalia in the Bock-Harnick-Masteroff musical She Loves Me. In addition to starring roles in The Gay Life and The Grass Harp, Cook played Anna in the legendary City Center revival of The King and I and appeared in a second production of Carousel at City Center, this time playing the role of Julie Jordan. Some time later, she played Magnolia in the New York State Theatre's production of Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein's fabled Show Boat. Cook originated the role of Patsy in Jules Feiffer's Little Murders, and in 1972 she again returned to the dramatic stage in the Repertory Theatre of Lincoln Center's production of Gorky's Enemies.
In 1974 Cook began a creative partnership with musical arranger, accompanist, composer, dance arranger, and conductor Wally Harper, a shining model of artistic collaboration and enduring friendship, which lasted for nearly 31 years until his death. Numerous recordings mark the journey of this unique partnership. Cook and Harper traveled the world together and performed a number of times at the White House, for Presidents Carter, Reagan, Bush, and Clinton.
In September 1985, Cook recorded Rodgers and Hammerstein's Carousel and The Disney Album for the MCA record label. Nominated in 1986 for an Olivier Award for her one-woman show at London's Albery Theatre, Cook received the Drama Desk Award in 1987 for her Broadway show A Concert for the Theatre. In October 1991, Cook's appearance as a featured artist at the Carnegie Hall Gala "Music and Remembrance: A Celebration of Great Musical Partnerships" underscored her commitment to two important causes: the advancement of the performing arts and support of AIDS research. Musical America selected her as 2007 Vocalist of the Year, the first pop singer to be so honored by this classical performing arts organization.
Cook's studio recordings include eight original cast albums, two Ben Bagley albums of songs by Jerome Kern and George Gershwin, an album entitled Songs of Perfect Propriety, featuring poems by Dorothy Parker set to music by Seymour Barab, and As Of Today on the Columbia label. Cook can also be heard as the voice of Thumbelina's mother in the Warner Bros. animated film Thumbelina (with music by Barry Manilow). Her most recent DRG recordings also include Close as Pages in a Book, featuring the lyrics of Dorothy Fields, Barbara Cook: Live from London, Oscar Winners: The Lyrics of Oscar Hammerstein, All I Ask of You, The Champion Season: A Salute to Gower Champion, the Grammy-nominated Count Your Blessings, a collection of traditional Christmas songs, and Tribute, based on her sold-out Café Carlyle concert.