Here is a selection of songs performed by the great Johnny Mathis.
John Royce "Johnny" Mathis (born in 1935) is an American singer of popular music and jazz. Starting his career with singles of standard music, he became highly popular as an album artist, with several dozen of his albums achieving gold or platinum status and 73 making the Billboard charts to date. Johnny Mathis has sold well over 350 million records worldwide, according to Guinness Book of World Records writer and charts music historian Paul Gambaccini and other sources. This makes Mathis the third biggest selling artist of the 20th century.
Although he is frequently described as a romantic singer, his discography includes jazz, traditional pop, Brazilian music, Spanish music, soul music, rhythm and blues, soft rock, Broadway theatre, Tin Pan Alley standards, some blues and country songs, and even a few disco songs for his album Mathis Magic in 1979. Mathis also recorded six albums of Christmas music. In a 1968 interview, Mathis cited Lena Horne, Nat King Cole, and Bing Crosby among his musical influences.
His father had worked in vaudeville, and when he saw his son's talent, he bought an old upright piano for $25 and encouraged him. Mathis began learning songs and routines from his father. His first song was "My Blue Heaven." Mathis started singing and dancing for visitors at home, at school, and at church functions.
When he was 13, voice teacher Connie Cox accepted him as her student in exchange for work around her house. Johnny studied with Cox for six years, learning vocal scales and exercises, voice production, classical, and operatic singing. He is one of the relatively few popular singers who received years of professional voice training that included opera.
Mathis was a star athlete at George Washington High School in San Francisco. He was a high jumper and hurdler, and he played on the basketball team. In 1954, he enrolled at San Francisco State University on an athletic scholarship, intending to become an English teacher and a physical education teacher.
In San Francisco while singing at a Sunday afternoon jam session with a friend's jazz sextet at the Black Hawk Club, Mathis attracted the attention of the club's co-founder, Helen Noga. She became Mathis' music manager, and in September 1955, after Noga had found Mathis a job singing weekends at Ann Dee's 440 Club, she learned that George Avakian, head of Popular Music A&R at Columbia Records, was on vacation near San Francisco. After repeated calls, Noga finally persuaded Avakian to come hear Mathis at the 440 Club. After hearing Mathis sing, Avakian sent his record company a telegram stating: "Have found phenomenal 19-year-old boy who could go all the way. Send blank contracts."
At San Francisco State, Mathis had become noteworthy as a high jumper, and in 1956 he was asked to try out for the U.S. Olympic Team that would travel to Melbourne, Australia, that November. Mathis had to decide whether to go to the Olympic trials or to keep his appointment in New York City to make his first recordings. On his father's advice, Mathis opted to embark on a professional singing career. His LP record album was released in late 1956 instead of waiting until the first quarter of 1957.
Mathis's first record album, Johnny Mathis: A New Sound In Popular Song, was a slow-selling jazz album, but Mathis stayed in New York City to sing in nightclubs. His second album was produced by Columbia Records vice-president and record producer Mitch Miller, who helped to define the Mathis sound. Miller preferred that Mathis sing soft, romantic ballads, pairing him up with conductor and music arranger Ray Conniff, and later, Ray Ellis, Glenn Osser, and Robert Mersey. In late 1956, Mathis recorded two of his most popular songs: "Wonderful! Wonderful!" and "It's Not For Me To Say".
Also that year, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer signed him up to sing the latter song in the movie Lizzie (1957). Shortly afterwards, Mathis made his second film appearance for 20th Century Fox, singing the song "A Certain Smile" in the film of that title. He had small acting roles in both movies as a bar singer. This early visibility in two successful movies gave him mass exposure. His appearance on the popular TV program The Ed Sullivan Show in 1957 also helped increase his popularity. Critics called him "the velvet voice". Mathis also appeared during this period on ABC's The Pat Boone Chevy Showroom, as did fellow African-American entertainers Ella Fitzgerald and Pearl Bailey.
In 1958, Johnny’s Greatest Hits was released. The album spent an unprecedented 491 consecutive weeks through 1967 (nine and a half years) on the Billboard top 100 album charts, earning him a mention in the Guinness Book of World Records.
While Mathis continued to make music, the ascent of the Beatles and early 1970s album rock kept his adult contemporary recordings out of the pop singles charts, until he experienced a career renaissance in the late 1970s.
Mathis continues to perform live, but from 2000 forward, he limited his concert performances to about fifty to sixty per year.
Both Mathis and Barbra Streisand carry the distinction of having the longest tenure of any recording artist on the Columbia Records label. With the exception of a four-year break to record for Mercury Records in the mid-1960s, he has been with Columbia Records throughout his career, from 1956 to 1963 and from 1968 to the present.
He has had five of his albums on the Billboard charts simultaneously, an achievement equaled by only two other singers: Frank Sinatra and Barry Manilow. He has released 200 singles and had 71 songs charted around the world.
Pieces of music from numerous Mathis albums continue to be used in motion pictures and television.
He has taped twelve of his own television specials and made over 300 television guest appearances, with 33 of them being on The Tonight Show. Longtime Tonight Show host Johnny Carson said, "Johnny Mathis is the best ballad singer in the world." He appeared on the show with Carson's successor, Jay Leno, on March 29, 2007, to sing his song "The Shadow of Your Smile" with the saxophonist Dave Koz. Through the years, his songs (or parts of them) have been heard in 100 plus television shows and films around the globe. His appearance on the Live by Request broadcast in May 1998 on the A&E Network had the largest television viewing audience of the series.
In 2003, the Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences awarded Mathis the Lifetime Achievement Award.
Johnny Mathis has been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame for three separate recordings - in 1998 for "Chances Are", in 2002 for "Misty", and in 2008 for "It's Not for Me to Say".
On June 21, 2014 Johnny Mathis was inducted into the Great American Songbook Hall Of Fame along with Linda Ronstadt, Shirley Jones, and Nat King Cole.
He was also awarded the Society of Singers Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006. In 2007, Mathis was inducted into the Hit Parade Hall of Fame.
Enjoy Johnny Mathis’ charm!
It's not for me to say
Concert in London (1965) (excerpts)
"Man of La Mancha" Medley
You'll never know
Begin the beguine
The way we were
Our day will come
Summer me, winter me / Pieces of dreams
With Nicole Croisille: Les moulins de mon cœur
Crazy world (from "Victor, Victoria")