The Songwriters Of NYC's House Of Hits
Episode One: Overview
They were born and raised in the 5 boroughs of NYC: Burt Bacharach, Bobby Darin, Neil Diamond, Leiber & Stoller, Carole King, Tony Orlando, Neil Sedaka, and many more. In the ’50’s and ’60’s they all found their way to New York City’s House Of Hits: the fabled Brill Building at 1619 Broadway. Working in cramped rooms with barely enough space for a piano and a chair, they wrote the songs that defined popular music for generations.
This educational concert explores how these legendary songwriters began their careers writing for seminal rock artists like Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and The Drifters, and later for mega stars like The Carpenters, The Animals, Dolly Parton, Janis Joplin, The Monkees and Dionne
Warwick, before going on to achieve their own superstardom.
Willa Bassen will delight, entertain and enlighten her audiences by performing these songs while discussing the rich cultural and historical context in which they were written, all against the backdrop of a uniquely New York experience.
Sunday, March 15, 2020, 2:00pm - 3:00pm
Hauppauge Public Library
1373 E. Vets Memorial Hwy., Hauppauge, NY 11788
Episode Two: The Two Neils
An in-depth look at the songs, lives and times of Neil Sedaka and Neil Diamond, 2 boys from immigrant families who both graduated (in 1956 and 1958) from Lincoln High School in Brooklyn. Willa performs the songs and follows the paths of the 2 Neils, from the friends they made in high school (Barbra Streisand, Carole King) to the tunes they wrote for ‘up and coming’ stars during their Brill Building days (Connie Francis, Gene Pitney, The Monkees, Jay And The Americans) to the highs and lows of their own decades-spanning careers as singer/songwriters.
Monday, March 16, 2020, 1:00pm - 2:00pm
Peninsula Public Library
280 Central Ave., Lawrence, NY 11559
Episode Three: Three Brilliant Women
An exploration of the careers of Carole King and Gerry Goffin (’Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow’, ‘Natural Woman’), Ellie Greenwich and Jeff Barry (‘Be My Baby’, ’Da Doo Ron Ron’) and Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann (‘You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’, ‘On Broadway’). Although songwriting was very much a man’s game in the ’50’s and ’60’s, three New York girls with talent, brains and guts didn’t let that stop them. Already established singers and writers while still in their teens, along the way they met (and married) the young men they would write their most enduring hits with. Willa performs the songs and looks at the tumultuous lives of these 3 trailblazing couples.
Episode Four: Burt & Bert
A look at the songs, lives and loves of Burt Bacharach (‘What The World Needs Now’, ‘I Say A Little Prayer’, ‘Close To You’) and Bert Berns (‘Twist And Shout’, ‘Piece of My Heart’, ‘Hang On Sloopy’). They couldn’t have been more different. Bacharach was a highly educated classical composer. Berns came up poor on the streets. Bacharach became a global superstar, a household name for decades. Berns worked his magic out of the spotlight and died young. Both came up through The Brill Building, and wrote pop and rock songs that will never die. Willa performs the songs and takes an in-depth look at the incredible careers of these two legends.
(More episodes coming soon......)