Howard Weinberg and Ruth Leon produced and directed New York in Song, a 90-minute special featuring 30 great cabaret stars paying tribute to "the city that never sleeps" to benefit the educational needs of the children of the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Weinberg and Leon, a leading performance director and filmmaker based in London and New York, had developed a proposal for a series of television programs on The Great American Songbook. They wanted to celebrate the breadth and depth of the musical heritage known as American Popular Song.
In the midst of discussions about producing the series, 9/11 happened. CUNY-TV asked the team whether the cabaret artists they knew would pay tribute to New York City in a special television program to be broadcast six months after the tragedy occurred. With the help of Donald Smith, who created the Mabel Mercer Foundation and its annual Cabaret Convention, and Michael Kerker, who directed the musical theatre program of ASCAP, they matched songs about New York with performers.
Singers of American popular song concentrate on communicating the meaning of words. Frank Sinatra said that by listening to the great Mabel Mercer, he learned to sing lyrics. Mabel Mercer said, "Songs tell a story. They are like life, only more so." In New York In Song, the composers and lyricists who wrote for Broadway, cabaret and even Hollywood -- Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, George and Ira Gershwin, Jerome Kern, Harold Arlen, Rodgers and Hart, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Lerner and Loewe, Jule Styne, Leonard Bernstein, Frank Loesser, Stephen Sondheim, Kander and Ebb, Dietz and Schwartz, and others -- celebrate the essence of New York.
The New York In Song cabaret performers include Christine Andreas, Liz Callaway, Barbara Carroll, Eric Comstock, Christine Ebersole, Tovah Feldshuh, Malcolm Gets, Mary Cleere Haran, Jeff Harnar, Heather Mac Rae, Karen Mason, Mark Nadler, Phillip Officer, Craig Rubano, KT Sullivan, David Staller, Billy Stritch, Larry Woodard.