Jim Witter as Manilow: He’ll sings the songs in Springfield

Screen shows lyrics for audience ‘Barry-oke.’

You may know the artist. He’s a frequent performer here with four previous outings at the Clark State Performing Arts Center. The question is what performer he’ll cover.

Part of the fun of singer/musician Jim Witter’s show is finding out which celebrated singer/songwriter of the 1960s-80s he’ll take on next.

For the annual Richard L. and Barbara D. Kuss Memorial Concert, Witter will take on the man who writes the songs that make the whole world sing with his show “I Write the Songs — The Music of Barry Manilow.”

This free concert will be 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 26, at, appropriately, the Performing Arts Center’s Kuss Auditorium.

Although the concert is free, tickets are required.

“We’re so thrilled to be coming back,” Witter said.

Witter has performed the music of Elton John and Billy Joel and Simon and Garfunkel in recent shows here. The Manilow show is brand new for Witter and his band, just two months into performing it.

He got inspired by talking to audiences he meets who tell him whose music they’d like to hear him interpret and an overwhelming choice was Manilow.

“It’s been a fun show to put together. I never fully understood how many ballads he has that everybody remembers,” Witter said. “It has been fresh and exciting for us.

“As a singer, you look for well-written, fun, dynamic tunes and these have been a challenging workout.”

Witter confessed he originally thought a Manilow show would be particularly popular with the female audience, but has discovered guys admit to liking it, also.

He got confirmation from a burly man’s man who said he was excited for the show.

The performance will include a large screen with the lyrics projected for the audience to sing along. Witter has dubbed it Barry-oke.

It will also include trivia on the songs. Witter was surprised how many songs Manilow recorded from other writers, but had a great sense in finding a song that fit his talent.

Manilow was one of the many singers or songwriters to come out of the ’70s and ’80s, when Witter came of age. He’s always seeking for new challenges and is looking to add the music of James Taylor and Carol King to a future touring show.

Witter attributes it to his love of AM radio, where there were no genre boundaries and you could discover any number of performers.

Until then, he’s excited to be back in Springfield: “It’s always nice to be invited back. You get to forge friendships and just know you’ll put on a good show. When people want to have us back, that’s the greatest feeling.”

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Contact this contributing writer at bturner004@woh.rr.com.

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