Her unique comedic gifts have endeared her to legions of fans the world over, and her eponymous TV variety show has been hailed as a broadcasting landmark. Now, Carol Burnett is poised to take on an altogether different challenge: mentoring a new generation of classical singers at the Music Academy of the West.
The iconic television star will join legendary mezzo-soprano Marilyn Horne for coaching sessions with the young vocalists who will headline this year’s Cabaret gala benefiting the Music Academy’s full-scholarship program. Burnett and Horne will instruct Music Academy Voice Fellows in the art of musical comedy, both in private classes and individually. It will mark Burnett’s first foray into the classroom.
“I’m thrilled to be part of this event, as I’ve attended it in past years and have always come away impressed,” said Burnett, a Montecito resident. “I have long cherished musical comedy and am pleased to have the opportunity to share what I know about this true American art form with Music Academy Fellows.”
Burnett’s numerous honors include 12 People’s Choice Awards — more than any other actress — eight Golden Globes, six Emmy Awards and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She also is a Kennedy Center honoree and has been inducted into the Television Hall of Fame.
She has penned two New York Times bestsellers, This Time Together: Laughter and Reflection and her autobiography, One More Time. She received her first Grammy nomination in 2010 for the audiobook version of This Time Together. Hollywood Arms, the play based on her autobiography that she co-wrote with her late daughter, Carrie Hamilton, premiered at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre in April 2002.
Born in San Antonio, Burnett attended UCLA before relocating to New York City, where she ultimately caught the attention of talent bookers from both The Jack Paar Show and The Ed Sullivan Show. She went on to become a permanent cast member on The Garry Moore Show from 1959 to 1962, garnering her first Emmy Award.
After appearing with Julie Andrews in the Emmy-winning special Julie and Carol at Carnegie Hall, CBS signed her to a 10-year contract. The Carol Burnett Show premiered on that network in September 1967 and ran for 11 years. Horne twice appeared on the program, the two stars having met in the early 1970s through actor and singer Jim Nabors.
Gerald Sternbach, whose extensive performance credits include serving as an award-winning music director as well as an accompanist for the likes of Burnett, Julie Andrews and Kelsey Grammer, will once again oversee the musical-revue-style production at the heart of this year’s Cabaret.
Featuring Fellows from the Music Academy’s acclaimed Voice Program performing an entertaining array of popular music ranging from classical and jazz to Broadway and pop, in addition to cocktails and a gourmet dinner, the event will take place at 6 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 9, in the Plaza del Sol rotunda of Fess Parker’s DoubleTree Resort in Santa Barbara. Table sponsorships are available for $10,000 and $5,000; a limited number of single tickets are available starting at $300.
Sharon Bradford and Phyllis Smith, who co-chaired last year’s Cabaret fundraiser, are serving in the same capacity this summer.
“I love the Music Academy of the West and particularly this event, as it’s a fundraiser for the academy’s full-scholarship program,” said Bradford, who has served on boards for Elings Park and the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, among other local organizations.
“It’s a real joy to give back to the community, and especially to support an organization as spectacular as the Music Academy of the West,” added Smith, the longtime proprietor of Phyllis Brooks Interiors.
“We are very pleased and grateful to have such dynamic leadership. Phyllis and Sharon have brought wonderful energy and creativity to planning for this important event,” said Jonathan Bishop, vice president for institutional advancement at the Music Academy.
The Music Academy’s 65th anniversary Summer Festival concludes Aug. 11. For tickets and information, click here or call 805.969.8787.
— Tim Dougherty is the communications manager for the Music Academy of the West.