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WHAT MADE OL’ BLUE EYES GREAT?

Professor Anna Celenza /  Johns Hopkins University

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? 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.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
How well did Frank Sinatra actually speak Italian?

What other singers most influenced Frank Sinatra’s singing style?

Why didn’t Frank Sinatra serve in the military…and what role did he play in supporting the American effort in WW2?

Is there any evidence that Sinatra had ties or involvement with organized crime?

Why did Sinatra have such a poor relationship with famous bandleader Tommy Dorsey?

Is Ronan Farrow actually the child of Mia Farrow and Frank Sinatra? 

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