Monday, September 9, 2013

Jay Black at Town Hall

Jay and the Americans was one of the reigning American pop bands in the early 1960s before the British Invasion changed the music business forever. "Only in America", "Come a Little Bit Closer", "Let's Lock the Door (and Throw Away the Key)", "Cara Mia", "Some Enchanted Evening" and “This Magic Moment” featured the incredible vocals of Brooklyn native Jay Black (born David Blatt on November 2, 1938). Black completed bankruptcy proceedings in Manhattan in 2006, after he accrued a $500,000 debt in back taxes to the IRS as a result of his gambling addiction. To pay his debt, Black sold his ownership of the name "Jay and the Americans" to Sandy Deanne, Black's former band mate and original member of the group, for $100,000. Black now performs solely under his stage name, while Deane’s band has a new vocalist and performs as Jay and the Americans.

Black performed a free concert at Town Hall tonight at a John Catsimatidis rally. Black brought the mayoral candidate onstage at one point so that both Black and Catsimatidis could introduce the song “Only in America” as an opportunity to pitch for tomorrow’s primary elections. Looking back on his career, the 74-year-old Black related how a promising young songwriter, Neil Diamond, pitched songs to him. He shared stories of how Frankie Valli and Frank Sinatra challenged him, asking him how he was going to be able to sing the full range of vocals on “Cara Mia” into his older years. He told humorous anecdotes between songs, and sang his old hits so well that he received several standing ovations. In the 1960s, Black was known as "The Voice," and singing through a series of timeless classic pop songs tonight, he proved that he can still take ownership of that name.

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