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THE MANHATTAN TRANSFER has remained an important part of musical history for over 40 years. The legendary quartet has won 10 Grammys from its 20 nominations, has been inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame, and continues to wow audiences with live performances throughout the country and the world. The Manhattan Transfer is currently comprised of Cheryl Bentyne, Alan Paul, Janis Siegel, and Trist Curless, who recently stepped into the shoes of the group’s founder, Tim Hauser, after his recent passing. With worldwide record sales in the millions, the extraordinary group topped the charts consistently for decades with their melodic and jazz-infused vocals that bring audiences back year after year and span generations.
The group was founded by Tim Hauser when he was paying his bills by driving a New York City cab and aspiring to form a harmony vocal quartet that could authentically embrace varied musical styles, and still create something wholly unique in the field of American popular song. While driving, he met the first members of the legendary group – Laurel Massé and Janis Siegel. Alan Paul, who was appearing in the Broadway cast of Grease at the time, was recommended as the additional male voice and the four became The Manhattan Transfer on October 1, 1972. Cheryl Bentyne joined The Manhattan Transfer in 1979, replacing Laurel.
In 1974 the group began performing regularly throughout New York City at Trude Heller’s, Mercer Arts Center, Max’s Kansas City, Club 82, and other cabaret venues. By the end of the year they were the number one live attraction in New York City. They were signed to Atlantic Records and released their self-titled debut album in 1975. The second single, a remake of the gospel classic “Operator,” gave the group their first national hit. The band was soon tapped to helm a weekly hour-long summer replacement comedy-variety show, which premiered on CBS on August 10, 1975.
Their next two albums, Coming Out and Pastiche, brought them a string of Top 10 hits in Europe and produced a #1 smash in Britain and France with “Chanson d’Amour.”
Extensions, which came out in 1979, garnered another smash with “Twilight Zone/Twilight Tone.” The vocal remake of the classic “Birdland” became recognized as the group’s anthem, and earned them their first two Grammys, for Best Jazz Fusion Performance, Vocal or Instrumental and Best Arrangement for Voices. In 1981, they became the first group ever to win Grammys in both Pop and Jazz categories in the same year – Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal for “Boy From New York City,” and Best Jazz Performance, Duo or Group for “Until I Met You (Corner Pocket)”. That was followed by “Route 66.” The next two years, the group won consecutive Grammys in the Best Jazz Vocal Performance, Duo or Group. The 12 Grammy nominations they received for Vocalese in 1985 made it the single greatest Grammy-nominated album in one year to date, and cemented the group’s status as one of the most important and innovative vocal groups in the history of popular music. The band’s next studio album, the ground-breaking “Brasil”, won the Grammy for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal.
Their Grammy wins continued into the ’90s. In 2008, An Acapella Christmas became a top selling record and they expanded their catalog to include recorded children’s music and different genres of swing music.
The group has also recorded with an impressive roster of artists – Tony Bennett, Bette Midler, Smokey Robinson, Laura Nyro, Phil Collins, B.B. King, Chaka Khan, James Taylor, and Frankie Valli – and their music has been featured in numerous TV shows and films.
With worldwide sales in the millions, awards by the dozen, and sold-out world tours, The Manhattan Transfer continue to record and tour, with many more surprises to come.