WEEK OF JULY 17, 2000

HELLO MY FRIENDS (and others): I'm BAAAACK! And I love San Francisco, ESPECIALLY the weather, and I'm not flying United ever, ever again. I'll tell all about my adventures and the show I had a real hard time staying awake for very soon.

In the meantime, Sunday was a rather poignant day. Can't believe it's been a year already. Mr. McKuen says, "the loss of gentle men is always hardest to endure." How true. Or, rather, I feel it's truth, since I agree with his opinion.

THE NEW YORKER: Speaking of opinion, here's mine of the New Yorker article: 1) Super, super cool illustration by comic artist Robert Risko. Don't know what the birds represent, though; 2) More of Gil Reiger's input than I cared to read; 3) Writer Jesse Green's clever observation that Mathis "maintains an emotional remoteness from the sentiments he sings about" was to me, right on. And I have an opinion as to why that might be, but I'll keep that to myself; 4) Reading about the suits designed to give the illusion of an hourglass figure, and the cortisone shots for his vocal cords is a little like going to see a really great movie like Gladiator and then being subjected to a vignette on how it was made; 5) Mathis' quote "I don't know why I'm called romantic," poses a question I've wanted to know the answer to for years; after all, we know he's much more than that, don't we? 6) I thought he gave a really odd statement about his late parents; 7) Equally interesting statement about "passing"; 8) All-in-all, the writer was very thorough, the story, like all stories lucky enough to grace the inner pages of the New Yorker, was vividly written, and I think gave you a really good idea of what the writer saw, being the casual observer of a person who is really hard to get inside of.

MATHIS GOLF TOURNEY: The 2000 Shell Johnny Mathis Golf Classic in Great Britain. Horrible amateurish scan job here, but I guess the goal here is the passing of information.

MATHIS ON THE RADIO: Weekend Edition 6/11/00 Transcripts available.

MATHIS IN CONCERT: July 22/23 Wherever Cohasset Mass. is, he's headed there! South Shore Music Circus. August 10 Wallingford Connecticut. August 12 Cheap seats at the Finger Lakes Amphitheater in Rochester;

I have a feeling Lancaster and LA are real close, so may as well call it two nights in LA in late August. August 23 Lancaster Performing Arts Center in Lancaster, California. SOLD OUT (of course). August 25 The Greek Theatre in Los Angeles. I don't see where this is sold out yet, but give it time.

Later, see Johnny Mathis at the usual casinos, Tropicana in September, Foxwoods in October. Also, San Antonio, San Antonio, and Minneapolis can expect visits from Mr. Smooth later this year. Mathis is working his tail off this year so if you've never seen him, get up off your money and GO SEE HIM. You can't take it with you, anyway!

For the year 2001: Valentine's Day Feb. 14 at Mt. Pleasant, MI; November 19 and 20 in Lake Buena Vista (Orlando) Florida at Disney Contemporary Resort; December 15 and 16 in Minneapolis Minnesota at the State Theatre; February 2nd and 3rd in San Diego California at the Copley Symphony Hall. March 29th one day only in Fort Wayne, Indiana at the Allen Co. Memorial Coliseum; April 13th and 14th in Fort Lauderdale, Florida at the Broward Center. May 11th and 12th in Buffalo, NY at the Kleinhans Music Hall.

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    Believe it or not, this man is 64-years old! People my age and younger aren't that familiar with him, and that's where I come in! He was born John Royce Mathis in Gilmer, Texas on September 30, 1935, and raised up in San Francisco, California. His stage name is Johnny Mathis, but usually the last name is sufficient. Ask your grandmother. Possibly your father. Definitely your mother. Say the name Mathis. They'll know just who you mean.

    Johnny Mathis is in many ways without contemporary nor successor.. A well-dressed man performing in front of a live orchestra, showing by his uniform and presentation that he takes his job seriously, is something "Generation Next" will very likely never get to see. He's practically the last vestige of a group of performers who actually dress up to perform on stage. He projects a very clean-cut image which has to be burdensome at times. I think he's absolutely gorgeous, much better-looking now than when he was younger. Fortunately, he's not JUST a pretty face! As you'll learn in my section called His Good Works, he's a man who does good things for people and for the organizations he believes in without fanfare. He is a professional who cares deeply about the quality of his performance, which may be one reason why his concerts aren't as long as they once were. He can sing in a concert hall without a microphone and be heard by everyone, even those of us in the cheap seats. He is a wealth of information through the songs he chooses to record and perform. Mathis exudes nothing but class and dignity when in the public eye. Mathis was one of the few Black singers from the pre-rock era to become a millionaire, and to look at him you don't realize just how successful he's been. Mathis does not flaunt his wealth, outside of a few well-deserved indulgences. Mathis is highly spiritual, respectful of everybody, and good to his friends, his family, and his associates. He could have been an Olympic Athlete in his youth, but was steered toward a singing career instead.

    I call Mathis my "professor", because he seems wise, and because he has taught me so much through the different types of music he has performed. I took real notice of him in 1984 when I was 23, and he's been a love interest, a role model, and an inspiration ever since. He's much more than a "Voice" to me. And he's a hell of a lot more than the so-called "Voice of Romance". What a stupid title to be saddled with! For such a great talent to be reduced to such one-dimensional categorization is a sin. Mathis himself is resigned to the title; I reject the notion totally. Anyone with two good ears and an open mind can hear the truth. He's the Voice of Mancini. He's the Voice of Johnny Mercer. He's the Voice of Errol Garner. He's the Voice of Stephen Sondheim. He's the Voice of Thom Bell. He's the Voice of Broadway. Point of fact, he's the Voice of every great songwriter there have ever been, for without the songwriters, to home I pay homage with my page, The Voice of Mathis, Mathis' own great voice would be quite silent, indeed!

    And yet, his publicists and some of the older fans refuse to associate him with anything other than the sappy, romantic Percy Faith-style elevator music that made him famous; stuff like "Chances Are", and "Wonderful, Wonderful", and Errol Garner's "Misty", all of which were recorded before he was 25 years old. But he's grown up since then, and careful investigation of his recordings will reveal a varied repertoire of soul, country, jazz, and even a touch of the blues! So if the reader prefers to live in the past, stay away from the Mathis Chronicles. Open minds are called for here. Mathis needs an appreciative, indulgent audience who allows him to grow and experiment with new songs and songwriters.

    Johnny Mathis may be a senior citizen now, but his voice is still strong and well-controlled. He's still got plenty to offer to us younger folks! He continues to record new product once in a while. His concerts, although neither as long nor as varied as they were only ten years ago, are still an event to behold. The year 2000 shows a full schedule for Johnny Mathis for the first time in a long time. Take advantage of this, and attend at least one of his shows this year! Johnny Mathis in concert is truly a glimpse into the past.

    I will never be ashamed to be a fan of Johnny Mathis. He can be whoever he needs to be, I accept him totally. Some can choose not to see his color, like he's the Invisible Man of Ralph Ellison's novel. But I SEE his beautiful Black color and I am proud to see such quality in a Black man who came from beautiful Black parents and has beautiful Black brothers and sisters. I envision him as my beautiful Black Father, and I praise the Heavenly Father for bringing him here and making me aware that this beautiful man of substance exists. He's done more for me than anybody who is white will ever understand.

    And to my diverse readership, current and past, young and old, black, white, gay, straight, and whatever: many thanks to all. Your support has helped Johnny Mathis and the Mathis Chronicles survive into the new millenium!

    Until next time, yours in Mathis,
    Iris Gross Georg -- author/editor of the Mathis Chronicles
    (you can call me Georg, you can call me ma'am, you can call me Ms. Georg [good], you can call me Iris...whatever. Just don't call me Ray J...)

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