Sam Harris Brings ’80s Hits (and Debbie Gibson) to San Diego
The San Diego Symphony's Summer Pops has always been a sheer musical extravaganza and this year's season is no exception, beginning with the always fun KC and the Sunshine Band on Thursday, June 27, a Broadway Tribute later in the summer, and a night dedicated to the best of Pixar Films. But The Rage Monthly's pick of this season is "Music From The '80s - Don't Stop Believin,' " so get out your Guess denim jacket and dust off your leg-warmers for this two-nights-only event Friday and Saturday, August 23 and 24.
Sam Harris, the very first winner of "Star Search" and 2009 Old Globe alumnus, is returning to town with pal Debbie Gibson to guest star in what he calls, "...an '80s throwback. An extraordinary opportunity for the whole audience and for us... to hear these incredible tunes with the backing of a full symphony, adding a whole new level to these songs."
He continues, "The demographic that attends the symphony, which is my age demographic, is now the same group that loves these '80s hits and power ballads. All the music we loved, it just adds another layer of introspection and depth."
Harris is particularly excited to explore, "Songs like 'Open Arms,' George Michael's 'Faith,' and Cyndi Lauper's 'Time After Time.' Singing with a symphony is like a fantasy come true - the soaring notes and melodies." He's also looking forward to spending time with an old friend. He and Debbie Gibson met years ago in New York and will sing a few duets together.
In addition to performing with the Summer Pops, Harris has a book coming out called "Slices of Life: Essays and Short Stories." The book deals with everything, from growing up to parenting and celebrity dealings. Harris says, "I've written for TV and stage, a book seemed so ominous, but I couldn't have had a better experience - I love my publisher and editor. The book has funny and interesting moments, sometimes tragic, when talking about teenage bullying and sobriety. After Summer Pops I'll be doing book release shows, a hybrid of a reading and song. You can also catch me on Jimmy Fallon in July. I can't wait, Jimmy is truly gifted, a great guy inside and out."
As the first Star Search Grand Champion with his signature version of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," Harris shared his thoughts regarding the multitude of talent shows on the air today.
"Anything that gives a platform for talent to be discovered is wonderful. That being said, my one complaint is that record labels take the easy route. It is much easier today to determine what is marketable and mold people into that pop model, make them a product star. They go with what is commercial and there is very little room for original artists. Someone might be gifted and be just what the show needed, but in the long-run they don't survive."
A long career spanning decades and with performances at a multitude of concert halls, musical theatre venues and on television is no easy feat and doesn't come without its share of wild experiences. "On stage one time, I had a giant electric pipe slam into my head - fortunately I was fine. Once during a musical, I forgot to under-dress; we did a quick costume change pulling off my suit and I had to go on naked. Another time, there were two deaf interpreters signing at my show - they didn't just sign - they re-enacted each scene and even changed costumes. It was totally over-the-top. Try to focus on the show with that ridiculousness!"
Despite a busy performing schedule, Harris and hubby Danny Jacobsen adopted a son named Cooper who is now five. "Being a father and a good one is exhausting, but five is such a great age!" says Harris.
The summer pops show is definitely nostalgic for Harris and introspective. Laugh if you must, but it led us to chat about life and success. Harris sums it up in one word: "Curiosity. Every day wake up looking for what is funny or interesting. Ask yourself, 'What's gonna happen today?' All the happy and successful people I know, are fans of what they do for their career and their life. Whether they are 25 or 85. That's the secret."
For tickets and more information about the Summer Pops season, call 619.235.0804 or go to sandiegosymphony.org.