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McGovern is happiest ‘doing it all’

Celebrated singer is bringing ‘40s hits to Utah

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Pop and Broadway diva Maureen McGovern got her start as a singer at an early age.

"When I was 1 1/2 years old," she said, "I would wake up in the middle of the night and sing at the top of my lungs."

And the singing hasn't stopped.

The talented vocalist will bring her unique sound to Abravanel Hall on Friday, July 14, and to Deer Valley on Saturday, July 15. Keith Lockhart will conduct the Utah Symphony as they perform "The Heart and Hopes of the '40s." Both performances begin at 7:30 p.m. Tickets may be obtained by calling ArtTix at 801-355-ARTS or 1-888-451-ARTS, at the ArtTix outlets at Abravanel Hall or the Capitol Theatre or online at www.arttix.org.

"I knew from third grade on that singing would be the most important thing in my life," McGovern said during a telephone interview from a hotel in Manhattan. "But I didn't know how I would accomplish or do that.

"I did guitar in high school . . . and later, my ex-husband hired me to play folk music opposite his jazz band at Eddie's Stag Bar at Kent State University in Ohio. After that, I started working the lounges in the Midwest.

"My first producer's barber heard me sing and said, 'You must hear this girl!' He sent tapes of me to everybody, and everybody rejected me, except 20th Century (Fox), and 20th Century hired me sight unseen."

It was there that McGovern had her first hit, "The Morning After," from the film "The Poseidon Adventure." The Academy Award-winning song topped the charts at No. 1 in 1973. The Oscar-winning "We May Never Love Like This Again," from yet another disaster movie, "The Towering Inferno," followed. And then, "Can You Read My Mind" from "Superman."

"I recorded a lot in the pop scene in the '70s," McGovern said, "and all of the albums that went along with that. But it wasn't me. I walked away from the music business and went into musical theater. I didn't record again on my own until 1986, and since then, everything I've done reflects me as an artist."

When "The Morning After" got big, she and her producer, Michael Lloyd, started putting together an album. "I pleaded with him to do just one song with just piano or guitar at the end of the album. He said that it would sound like we had run out of money."

McGovern said she turned her career around with "Another Woman in Love," with jazz pianist Mike Renzi. "It was an entire album devoted to just piano and voice. It was sweet victory, not only to have produced something that earned a Grammy nomination, but something we loved, after all these years."

She has earned her several additional Grammy nominations through the years and been successful singing a wide range of styles. "I'm happiest doing it all. I wouldn't want to limit myself. I love jazz, classical, theater, pop — anything that challenges me, I like."

Last summer, she had the chance to perform in Utah with "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg" at the Sundance Theatre. "It was heaven. I couldn't have been treated nicer."

With this trip, however, her program will be a little bit different.

"I'll be doing 'The Heart and Hopes of the '40s,' " she said. "It's the great songs from the big band, swing era. There's such inherent longing in all the songs because the world was in such turmoil at that time.

"You get timeless classics, like 'A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square,' 'The White Cliffs of Dover,' 'Blues in the Night' and 'Stormy Weather.' "

E-mail: rcline@desnews.com