Seventy years ago today the world was blessed by the birth of a very special person, Barry Manilow… Yes folks you read correctly; the ever young, ever energetic, timeless musician and performer turned ‘70’ today!
Like any family, odds are when Barry took his first breath in Brooklyn, New York on June 17th, 1943, his humble family had no idea the impact he’d have on the world. Yet as he found his way into life and discovered his own, unique passion for music, his footprint took its place in the world of entertainment in such a powerful fashion, it surprised even him. In fact, all these years later, his fame and popularity still surprises him, which is one of the reasons he is so adored. He’s never forgotten where he came from or gratitude for all he’s achieved,
Barry Manilow’s music has touched the hearts of millions, perhaps billions, during his forty-plus-year career. I’ve read it’s been credited to assisting children with autism to speak, people on the brink of giving up have found courage to keep going and some have found solace during medical procedures. The music of Manilow has been a part of humanity’s utmost joy and heartbreaking sorrow. All of that is enough to garner this wonderful man the title of “one in a million”. However, it’s only the impact he’s had on my own life that I can speak of with one hundred percent fact.
In 2007 Barry Manilow’s music changed my life! Not for just a moment or a day. But rather my entire life as I knew it, which has never been the same since his music entered. It has given me the clarity, courage and strength to find a me I never knew existed. As I recently published “It Could Be Magic”; the book I wrote to share my six year journey which continues to evolve, even I was blown away by the impact the music and inspiration this one man has had me.
A lyric from “To Sir With Love” comes to mind; “how do you thank someone for taking you from crayons to perfume?”. Metaphorically speaking, that’s exactly what happened. I grew from a woman, happy in many ways, yet unfilled and numb to all there was and all that there’s yet to be when I’d reached a point of even forgetting to be grateful, as I’d forgotten how to feel! For reasons that I’ll never understand, nor do i care to try to, Barry’s music shook me awake and brought me back to a place where I found I really could start over and hopefully do it right this time!
Because of his music I’ve discovered a zeal for life beyond my wildest imagination, the ability to feel emotion with every fiber of my being. I’ve learned the meaning of unconditional love. I’ve found a passion for writing I didn’t know was buried deep within, and the courage to finish my degree as I pursue my dream of becoming a clinical psychologist - I start classes this fall. And I know the meaning of “being in love”, not merely loving! I am now without doubt a better mother to my three sons and a far better human being.
So Barry? What words are there that fully explain my heartfelt, deep gratitude? None I can think of. All I can do as your special day comes to a close and a new fresh year comes over the horizon is wish and pray that you’re blessed with health, happiness, love, laughter and that each of your personal dreams come to fruition. One dream of course is your beloved original production of Harmony; which when it opens this September in Atlanta will be a huge success and hopefully in the not too distant future will grace a Broadway stage.
You are a man of class, integrity, phenomenal talent, gentleness, humility, generosity and hope in a world that often seems bleak for lack of it. You are a light at the end of the tunnel and a joy to all who have ever met you, heard you or have seen you perform. Barry you are one who can never, ever be duplicated or replaced.
Though I don’t have the opportunity to see your shows as often as I’d like to. Know that you are forever an intricate part of all I am and all I’ve yet to become. Your music will always be the soundtrack of my life. And your inspiration will continue to guide me as I take each, new exhilarating (and often frightening) step in this life God has given me.
Happy Birthday Barry and many, many more!
With undying respect, gratitude and love,