"I'm a conduit, I interpret," says Rosemary Clooney of her approach to singing. "Most of all I look for a word that means something to me, appeals to me, reminds me of something, a memory or some kind of feeling, as opposed to perhaps the way that I started, when I could sing something a little nonsensical like 'Come On-a My House.' " The reference is to the song that gave Clooney her first big success and made her a household name in 1950. Clooney will be one of several guests on the Tony Bennett Show at George Mason University's Patriot Center on Thursday. Artie Shaw and His Orchestra, featuring reed player Dick Johnson, will share the bill with the two vocalists.
As for accompaniment, Clooney says that she needs, "First of all, something that supports the feeling. Another thing that is very important is that, if it's a very difficult melodic line, I like to have the support of everything that is written. I like to have about seven brass under me if I have to sing a high C."
As to why the songs of Cole Porter, Gershwin and others are attracting a young audience, many of whom had never listened to anything but rock, Clooney observes, "The singers who are molding the tastes of this generation got a little bored with chord progressions that were so simplistic. I think they're looking for something more sophisticated, and because of them there is more of an interest in the old songs among young people today."