Lou Reed, Karen Carpenter, Jon Bon Jovi and Chris Martin all share the same birthday!

Lou: March 2, 1942 – October 27, 2013
Karen: March 2, 1950 – February 4, 1983
Jon:  March 2, 1962
Chris: March 2, 1977

Johnny Cash was born on February 26, 1932 in Kingsland, Arkansas.  His deep bass-baritone voice and mysterious nature made him one of the most memorable and unique artists of all time. Happy birthday, Johnny!   In his honor, I put together a video playlist of some of my favorite performances:
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Happy Birthday, Roberta Flack!  The singer, songwriter, and musician turns 75 years old today (or 77 according to the Census- either way she looks fantastic!).  Her version of “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” popularized the 1957 song and helped Flack win the 1973 Grammy Record of the Year and Song of the Year.  Watch her sing the song in 1972 in honor of her birthday!



Austrian composer Franz Schubert was born on January 31, 1797-  217 years ago today!  ”Serenade” is probably my favorite piece he wrote- I love playing it on the violin!   Watch this beautiful version I found on YouTube in honor of his birthday:


photo source


On January 27, 1970, John Lennon recorded “Instant Karma” at Abbey Road Studios in London. Fun fact about this song: “Instant Karma” was written, recorded, and released in a period of less than 10 days! It’s one of the fastest-released songs in music history! Lennon was quoted as saying that he “wrote it for breakfast, recorded it for lunch, and we’re putting it out for dinner” (source). This video is from February 11, 1970 on Top of the Pops. Can you believe this is only about two weeks after he wrote and recorded the song? Watch for Yoko Ono knitting blindfolded!



On January 26, 1988, The Phantom of the Opera opened on Broadway, two years after its West End debut. It is the longest running show in Broadway history!  It’s been seen by over 130 million people and its worldwide gross is estimated at over $5.6 billon (source)! This video features three of the show’s songs-  ”Think of Me”, “The Music of the Night”, and “The Phantom of the Opera”:

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Janis Joplin was born on January 19, 1943 in Port Arthur, Texas. She would have turned 71 years old today! Janis was one of my favorite artists to listen to when I was a teenager. I had a giant poster of Janis sitting on her painted Porsche plastered on my bedroom wall amidst glow-in-the-dark stars and would pop in one of her CDs when I wanted something with more soul than The Smashing Pumpkins or No Doubt. Her raspy voice was absolutely unique and her performances were electrifying and captivating!  Celebrate her birthday by watching and sharing a few videos of Janis working her magic on stage:

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[Hello, Cello click to enlarge]

Taken at TLB Music, NYC
photo credit: Carina Zimmerman

On January 13, 1968, Johnny Cash recorded his 27th album At Folsom Prison live at Folsom State Prison.  Some of my favorite songs on the album: “Long Black Veil”, “Folsom Prison Blues”, “Orange Blossom Special” and “Green, Green Grass of Home”. Cash had been interested in this particular prison for over a decade by the time he made At Folsom Prison!  In 1951, he watched the film Inside the Walls of Folsom Prison and it inspired him to write his 1955 hit “Folsom Prison Blues”.

On January 6, 1958, Gibson launched its iconic “Flying V” guitar.  I share a name (spelled differently) with the wood used to create its futuristic body! “Korina”  is a type of mahogany wood from a large tree native to Western Africa.  It was also used to make Gibson’s “Explorer” guitars.  The 1958 models of both the “Flying V” and “Explorer” are some of the most valuable production-model guitars in the world, in 3rd and 4th place on Vintage Guitar magazine’s “10 Most Valuable Guitars” list.  Although the 1958 “Flying V” is now extremely valuable, at the time the guitar wasn’t an immediate success.   It was even discontinued in 1959 after poor sales due to its heavy weight and modern design.  In the 1960s, Gibson reduced the guitar’s weight by eliminating its curved back and almost immediately, it was in the hands of many notable musicians such as Lonnie Mack (who had also played the 1958 original), Albert King, Dave Davies of the Kinks, and Jimi Hendrix.
Happy Birthday, Flying V!

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Happy Birthday, Frank Sinatra!  The singer and actor was born Francis Albert “Frank” Sinatra on December 12, 1915 in Hoboken, NJ. He would have turned 98 today!  Here are 3 Sinatra performances to watch in his honor:

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Happy Birthday, Maria Callas! Maria, one of the most renowned and influential opera singers of all time, would have turned 90 years old today.  She was born Maria Anna Sophie Cecilia Kalogeropoulos in NYC to parents George and Evangelia Kalogeropoulos. Her parents had just emigrated from Greece to New York in August of that year!  Her father shortened her last name to Callas when she was 6 years old.   She began piano lessons at 9 years old and before she was even 16 years old she was accepted into the National Conservatory in Athens.  At age 18, she made her professional operatic debut as Beatrice in Boccacio!

Here are 2 incredible Maria Callas videos to watch in her honor today:

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Happy December!  Can you think of 10 songs with “December” in the title or lyrics?  It’s not as easy as I thought it would be!  Below are my top 10 December songs.

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Happy 70th Birthday, Joni Mitchell!  The singer/songwriter/painter was born Roberta Joan Anderson on November 7, 1943 in Alberta, Canada.  In honor of her birthday, I’m sharing some of my favorite Joni Mitchell quotes and 3 amazing performances to watch and share!

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Cellist Yo-Yo Ma was born on October 7, 1955 in Paris, France.  Most likely, you’ve heard of Yo-Yo Ma, as he’s one of the most well-known classical musicians alive. The child prodigy began playing the cello at age 4 and was already performing publicly by age 5. He even played for Dwight D. Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy when he was only 7 years old! Yo-Yo Ma attended Trinity School in NYC, before transferring to the Professional Children’s School and graduating at age 15. He went on to study at Juilliard, Columbia, then Harvard where he received his Bachelor’s degree in 1976.

So how would you recognize Yo-Yo Ma?  In addition to many media appearances on television, he’s been featured on many soundtracks, including Seven Years in Tibet; Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; and Memoirs of a Geisha. You probably saw him performing with Itzhak Perlman at President Obama’s 2009 Inauguration!  He was also the first performer on September 11, 2002 at the site of the World Trade Center, when the names of those killed were read on the first anniversary of the attack.

In honor of his special day, watch a few of Yo-Yo Ma’s performances that showcase his talent:

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