Piano and Vocals
“Michael Feinstein is as good a concert performer as anyone who has gone before him, worked alongside him, or will come after him, and that includes Frank Sinatra…”
Michael Feinstein has built a dazzling career over the last three decades bringing the music of the Great American Songbook to the world. From recordings earning him five Grammy nominations to his Emmy-nominated PBS television specials, acclaimed NPR series, and concerts that span the globe—including appearances at iconic venues such as The White House, Buckingham Palace, Hollywood Bowl, Carnegie Hall, and Sydney Opera House—his acclaimed work as a performer, educator, and archivist define him as one of the most important musical forces of our time.
In 2007, he founded the Great American Songbook Foundation, dedicated to celebrating the art form and preserving it through educational programs, masterclasses, and the annual High School Songbook Academy. This summer intensive, open to students from across the country, has produced graduates who have gone on to record acclaimed albums and appear on television programs such as NBC’s America’s Got Talent. Mr. Feinstein also serves on the Library of Congress’s National Recording Preservation Board, an organization dedicated to ensuring the survival, conservation, and increased public availability of America’s sound recording heritage.
A prolific recording artist, Mr. Feinstein earned his fifth Grammy Award nomination in 2009 for The Sinatra Project, his album celebrating the music of “Ol’ Blue Eyes.” The Sinatra Project, Volume II: The Good Life was released in 2011. He released the albums The Power Of Two, collaborating with Glee and 30 Rock star Cheyenne Jackson, in 2009, and Cheek To Cheek, recorded with Broadway legend Barbara Cook, in 2011. And he co-wrote the title song for his 2011 album, We Dreamed These Days, with Dr. Maya Angelou. In 2013, he released Change Of Heart: The Songs of André Previn in collaboration with four-time Oscar and eleven-time Grammy Award-winning composer-conductor-pianist André Previn. The album celebrates Mr. Previn’s pop songs and motion picture classics. Earlier album highlights include Hopeless Romantics, a songbook of classics by Mr. Feinstein’s late friend Harry Warren, recorded with legendary jazz pianist George Shearing. His album with songwriting icon Jimmy Webb, Only One Life: The Songs of Jimmy Webb, was named one of the “10 Best CDs of the Year” by USA Today. Mr. Feinstein received his fourth Grammy nomination for Michael Feinstein with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, his first recording with a symphony orchestra. The year before, Rhino/Elektra Music released The Michael Feinstein Anthology, a two-disc compilation spanning 1987 to 1996 and featuring old favorites and previously unreleased tracks.
His broadcast and publishing resumes include the Emmy-nominated television special Michael Feinstein—The Sinatra Legacy, which was filmed live at the Palladium in Carmel, Indiana, and aired across the country in 2011. The PBS series Michael Feinstein’s American Songbook, which received the Deems-Taylor Television Broadcast Award from the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) was broadcast for three seasons and is available on DVD. His most recent primetime PBS television special, New Year’s Eve at The Rainbow Room—written and directed by Desperate Housewives creator Marc Cherry—aired in 2014. For his nationally syndicated public radio program Song Travels, Mr. Feinstein interviews and performs alongside music luminaries such as Bette Midler, Neil Sedaka, Liza Minnelli, Rickie Lee Jones, David Hyde Pierce, and more. His 2012 book The Gershwins and Me: A Personal History in Twelve Songs, published by Simon & Schuster, features a new album of Gershwin standards, performed with Cyrus Chestnut at the piano, and made the Los Angeles Times best-seller list.
Mr. Feinstein was named Principal Pops Conductor for the Pasadena Symphony in 2012 and made his conducting debut in June 2013 to critical acclaim. Under his leadership, the Pasadena Pops has quickly become a premier orchestral presenter of the Great American Songbook, with definitive performances of rare orchestrations and classic arrangements. He launched an additional Pops series at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts in Palm Beach, Florida in 2014.
He also serves as Artistic Director of the Palladium Center for the Performing Arts, a $170 million, three-theatre venue in Carmel, Indiana, which opened in January 2011. The theater is home to diverse live programming and is a museum for Mr. Feinstein’s rare memorabilia and manuscripts. Since 1999, he has served as Artistic Director for the Carnegie Hall series Standard Time with Michael Feinstein, in conjunction with ASCAP. In 2010 he became the director of the Jazz and Popular Song series at New York’s Jazz at Lincoln Center.
Mr. Feinstein’s nightclub at San Francisco’s Nikko Hotel, named Feinstein’s at the Nikko, has presented the top talents of pop and jazz since 2013. He opened Feinstein’s at the Hotel Carmichael in 2021. His first venue in New York, Feinstein’s at the Regency, featured major entertainers such as Rosemary Clooney, Glen Campbell, Barbara Cook, Diahann Carroll, Jane Krakowski, Lea Michele, Cyndi Lauper, Jason Mraz, and Alan Cumming from 1999 to 2012.
He also designed a new piano for Steinway called “The First Ladies,” inspired by the White House piano and signed by several former First Ladies. It was first played to commemorate the Ronald Regan centennial on February 6, 2011.
Mr. Feinstein was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio, where he started playing piano by ear as a 5-year-old. After graduating from high school, he moved to Los Angeles when he was 20. The widow of legendary concert pianist-actor Oscar Levant introduced him to Ira Gershwin in July 1977. Mr. Feinstein became Gershwin’s assistant for six years, which earned him access to numerous unpublished Gershwin songs, many of which he has since performed and recorded.
Gershwin’s influence provided a solid base upon which Mr. Feinstein evolved into a captivating performer, composer, and arranger of his own original music. He also has become an unparalleled interpreter of music legends such as Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern, Johnny Mercer, Duke Ellington, and Harry Warren. Mr. Feinstein has received three honorary doctorates.
Through his live performances, recordings, film and television appearances, and his songwriting (in collaboration with Alan and Marilyn Bergman, Lindy Robbins, Bob Merrill, and Marshall Barer), Mr. Feinstein is an all-star force in American music.