In certain circles, mention of the name -˜John Bucchino’ is met with an awed reverence.
Among musical theatre types and Broadway aficionados, the American composer is music royalty: his timeless, heartfelt songs like Grateful and Sweet Dreams have been covered by artists including Liza Minnelli, Judy Collins and Kristin Chenoweth.
This month, Bucchino heads to Sydney for a special one-off concert at the Supper Club with some of Australia’s most talented musical theatre performers, including Avigail Herman (Cats), Lucy Maunder (A Little Night Music) and Hayden Tee (Les Miserables).
This will be my fourth visit to Oz and I can’t wait to get back there, Bucchino told the Star from New York.
I have an increasing number of friends all over the country and it seems there are also quite a few fans of my work, which amazes and delights me.
The Sydney concert will add a few more names to the ever-growing list of those who’ve performed Bucchino’s work. I asked the composer if he had a particular favourite so far.
I do, but a gentleman doesn’t tell… Honestly, it’s always a special thrill to hear a well-known artist do one of my songs, he said.
I remember one surreal moment: sitting on Art Garfunkel’s couch with him, watching a DVD of a concert he did at Ellis Island here in New York. After he sang every Simon and Garfunkel song I knew, he closed the show with a gorgeous version of my song, Grateful.
I grew up listening to this man’s glorious voice and here I was in his apartment with him listening to him sing my song on his TV!
Although Bucchino sings as well as composes, he was self-effacing about his vocal talents.
Since I’m much more comfortable playing than singing, I love these kinds of events where I get to just accompany other, better, singers performing my songs.
But I also think there’s a lot to be said for a writer singing their own songs -” there’s a kind of completion of a circle when I both sing and play that’s very rewarding.
One of the reasons so many performers are drawn to Bucchino’s songs is the emotion they convey -“ simple, timeless compositions that allow powerhouse vocalists to soar. It’s audible in Grateful, arguably Bucchino’s best-loved work.
Grateful was kind of a miracle, he recalled.
I was cleaning house one Saturday and suddenly found myself sitting at the piano singing the chorus and weeping. It’s rare and beautiful when that kind of -˜lightning bolt’ inspiration strikes.
Usually, I just set out to express, as honestly as possible, whatever feeling or set of circumstances is prompting me to write.
Interestingly, Bucchino said his sexuality had helped to give his songwriting a universal appeal.
Very early on, before I came out -” even to myself -” I stopped including pronouns in my songs. I did that rather than having to live the lie of singing a love song to a woman. But it has another benefit: the songs are now all singable by men or women of any sexual preference, and I like that universality.
I believe that the deeper I’m willing to dive into myself, the more resonant the work will be for the listener.
info: John Bucchino and Friends, The Supper Club, June 20. Details: poloandsupper.com.au