The Life, Music and Genius of Frank Sinatra

Johns Hopkins University

Anna Celenza is a professor of music at Johns Hopkins University. She is the author of several books, including Jazz Italian Style: From Its Origins in New Orleans to Fascist Italy and Sinatra, and her most recent book, Music that Changed America.  In addition to her scholarly work, she has served as a writer/commentator for NPR’s “Performance Today.”

 

Overview

Frank Sinatra gave 20th-century America a voice. Through his music, stage shows, films and abashedly public private life, he offered audiences a vision of the “American Dream” that contrasted greatly with the suburban ideal of the hardworking man. Sinatra was entirely in tune with his audiences’ needs and desires. But this isn’t what made him great.

Why is Frank Sinatra famous? What is behind his “genius?” As this lecture demonstrates, Sinatra’s name lives on because of his distinctive musical style. His phrasing and tone, the timbre of his voice: these are the qualities that set him apart. Using numerous musical examples, Anna Celenza traces the origins of the famous “Sinatra Sound” and reveals how, over the last half century, it has influenced a disparate array of musical styles and genres that make up the kaleidoscopic nature of today’s American soundtrack.

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