Who better to ask to select Amsterdam’s all-time most beautiful singing voices than the woman who taught voice and directed the Amsterdam High School’s choral programs for close to three decades! Patricia Valiante told me she found this to be a very challenging assignment but not because of a shortage of Amsterdamian’s with gifted singing voices. Her problem was limiting the list to just ten. So she reached out to two other friends who have had their ears tuned to beautiful music in Amsterdam for even longer than she has, Bert DeRose and Peg Lazarou. I thank them all. Today in this post I present three of the voices on Pattie’s list in the category of Pop-Broadway-Jazz. My upcoming book will include the entire list:
Arlene Fontana – Born in 1936, as a student at Amsterdam High School she participated in a number of variety shows directed by Bert DeRose. In 1949, she appeared on the WRGB TV show Teenage Barn, where she attracted regional attention. She worked on a radio theatre series at local station WCSS., and did summer stock at the Malden Bridge Playhouse. When she graduated from AHS in 1954 she was offered a contract to perform at the Millers Shell Lounge in Miami. She sang at nightclubs throughout the United States and Cuba. In the late 1950’s she had a hit record of the song Easy and I’m in Love. She appeared in the Broadway productions of No, No Nanette and The Ritz. She was the character Linda Low in the musical Flower Drum Song and played that signature song I Enjoy Being a Girl a record 1,972 times. In addition to Broadway, she appeared on TV on the Ed Sullivan Show, Merv Griffin, The Tonight Show, and Mike Douglass. She acted in the Soap Operas Another World and Loving. Fontana died in 1990.
Sue Dunning Matthews – A 1971 graduate of Amsterdam High School, as a student Dunning-Matthews showed much musical promise as a singer in the chorus, as a female lead in the high school musicals and as a soloist with the high school jazz band as well as other bands in the area. After she graduated, her life and career took her to the Washington DC area. She became a well known Jazz singer releasing her first album, Love Dances in 1991; her second, When You’re Around in 1993; and a third, One at a Time in 2002. She sings with a Maryland based group called Guys and Dolls. She also recorded an album of Irish pop songs, and has been a featured artist with several different ensembles and at several special musical events and venues. Dunning-Matthews continues to perform in the Maryland area.
Kyle Brown- Originally from Broadalbin, Kyle started singing and performing as a child. He was the lead character Amahl in the opera Amahl and the Night Visitor. From there his life took him to the University of Cincinnati’s Conservatory of Music, and then to the stage. He has been in many off-Broadway and touring companies, most recently he has appeared on Broadway in An American in Paris and is presently on Broadway in Anastasia the Musical.
Who were Pattie Valiante’s seven other choices ? You’ll find out when my “Book of 50 Top Ten All-Time Amsterdam Lists,” is released later this year.
Once a month, I will be sending out a newsletter that includes a portion of the All Time Amsterdam Top Ten Lists I happen to be working on at the time. I will also use this monthly newsletter to announce the topics for upcoming Top Ten Lists and welcoming readers to put forth their own nominations for these compilations. If you’d like be included, please add your e-mail address here.