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Top Performers Pay Tribute to Judy Garland

The artistry of singer and actress Judy Garland (1922 – 1969) is a living legacy upheld by the great singers of our time. American Masters asked performing artists who hold Garland’s work close to their hearts and in their own personal repertory what inspires them most about “the hardest working woman in Hollywood.”

The national encore of the Emmy Award-winning film Judy Garland: By Myself (2004) is March 20, 2015, 9-11 pm (ET) on PBS (check local listings).

Jim Bailey

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Jim Bailey’s fame as an actor and entertainer began in the late 1960s when he created the “illusions” of singers Judy Garland, Barbra Streisand, and Peggy Lee by vocally mimicking them in his own operatically trained voice. Bailey has appeared on concert stages throughout the world, including headlining in Las Vegas, and regular performances at New York’s Carnegie Hall and The Palladium Theater in London.

Favorite Garland Quote: My favorite quote by Judy is what she said when she joined me onstage in my nightclub act in which I performed as Garland. She looked at me and said, “I never realized I was that pretty.” She was a great wit!

How Garland Inspires You? Judy still went out onstage the last few months of her life with hardly any voice left. She kept giving of herself.

Favorite Garland Song: It’s changed over the years, but at this point it’s Harold Arlen’s ”Last Night When We Were Young” (1935), which Judy recorded twice. “By Myself” (written in 1937) is another favorite.

Favorite Garland Film: I Could Go On Singing (1963)—apart from being a great stage performer, Garland’s acting was incredible in it. It was Garland’s last film.

In 1968, Jim Bailey‘s nightclub act at the Redwood Room included Judy Garland in his repertoire. When Garland herself came to see Bailey’s show, she asked him to sing a song with her. Bailey agreed and the two sang a duet of “Bye Bye Blackbird”, which Bailey had intended on singing as himself. The two later became friends, and Garland became Bailey’s mentor. In 1970, Bailey was booked in Las Vegas and became an overnight sensation. He appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show, which helped launch an international career. His performance as Judy Garland singing “The Man that Got Away” was such a phenomenon he was asked back a couple of months later to perform as Peggy Lee. He also performed as himself on both shows.

Also in 1973, Bailey teamed with Liza Minnelli, daughter of his mentor Judy Garland, in Las Vegas at The Flamingo. The two put together a concert recreating the performances by Minnelli and her late mother in London, with Bailey standing in as Garland. The “Judy and Liza Concert” met with great success, they opened the show with Jim as Judy singing “Well, Hello Liza” just as the mother and daughter had done at the Palladium years earlier. ​

See Jim Bailey’s tributes to Judy Garland on his YouTube channel.

Sarah Uriarte Berry

Berry_Sarah_068_ret3Sarah Uriarte Berry is currently writing a one-woman celebration of the music and artistry of the legendary Judy Garland, “For the Love of Judy,” to be performed this October with the Cape Symphony, under the direction of Maestro Jung-Ho Pak.

“At the age of five, I was entranced while viewing The Wizard of Oz on television, and from that moment, dreamed of being a performer like Judy Garland. Throughout my childhood and young adult life I trained as a musician, singer and actress, always keeping in mind Judy’s brilliant artistry.

I have always been amazed by, and tried to emulate, Judy’s ability to communicate the lyric in a song, and her total connection to her audience. She had a willingness to openly share herself, all the joys and sorrows, so completely. That was a space she lived in as a performer, and occasionally, when I’m at my best, I touch on it.”

Favorite Garland Quote: “Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.”

How Garland Inspires You? I am inspired by Judy’s decision to produce A Star is Born, a monumental film, even after all the hardship she had endured both personally and professionally. What an amazingly brave and bold move, especially for a woman and a mother at that time in history.

Favorite Garland Film: My favorite Garland film is A Star is Born. My favorite television moment is when she slams her hands down on the trunk at the end of “As Long As He Needs Me”, Episode # 3, telecast on November 17, 1963.

Favorite Garland Song: I can’t choose ONE favorite song! I have three: “Over the Rainbow” (1939); “Get Happy” (1950); “The Man That Got Away,” (1954).

Sarah Uriarte Berry made her Broadway debut as Eponine in Les Miserables. She then went on to star as Belle in Beauty and the Beast. Sarah created the role of Nicola in the Rosie O’Donnell-produced Taboo and was nominated for a Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards as Outstanding Featured Actress in a musical for her role as “Franca” in The Light in the Piazza. She also starred in the title role in Cinderella at New York City Opera. Other Broadway credits include Next To Normal and End of the Rainbow. Ms. Berry has appeared in some of the finest regional theaters and has been a soloist with over a dozen orchestras across the country. On screen Sarah has appeared on PBS in the live broadcast of The Light in the Piazza! A busy mom as well as a busy actress, Sarah has twin boys and a spirited daughter with her actor and director husband Michael Berry.

Hilary Kole

Hilary Kole is currently starring in Over The Rainbow, a tribute to the artistry of Judy Garland, which is on tour nationwide.

Favorite Garland Quote: “Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.”

How Garland Inspires You? What drew me to Judy Garland as a little girl was the magic that she brought to her performances. I felt I could relate to her vulnerability. And I wanted to sing like that — so effortlessly and so powerfully. I think the thing that has drawn me to Judy now as a woman, was the fact that she never gave up. She willed her body to continue to perform and she gave everything to her audience, against the odds, against all she had to overcome. That strength and that power — that is what I look at now. That is the thing that most inspires me about her.

Favorite Garland TV Performance: The Judy Garland Show when she sang with Liza. I grew up singing on stage with my father, and when I was very young, we would watch videos of these shows together and he would say “watch and learn.” I would get swept away. Watching mother and daughter, both so exceptionally talented, made me want to dedicate my life to performing. These performances had so much to do with why I do what I do. I am forever grateful for the gifts Judy left all of us.

Favorite Garland Song: “It Never Was You” by Kurt Weill. She sang it in her last movie “I Could Go On Singing” –– done just with her and piano — everything stripped away except that voice and all those feelings. It gets me every time.

Hilary Kole co-wrote and starred in the critically acclaimed, Off-Broadway reviews, “Our Sinatra,” and “Singing Astaire.” She began her professional career at the legendary Rainbow Room as the youngest singer ever to grace the stage. From there, she debuted at the Oak Room at the Algonquin Hotel, made her concert hall debut at Lincoln Center as part of the “American Songbook Series” and has appeared at Carnegie Hall in a Tribute to Oscar Peterson as well as at the Canadian Memorial to Dr. Peterson at Roy Thompson Hall alongside Quincy Jones, Herbie Hancock, and Nancy Wilson.

Additional major concert appearances include headlining in New York City at Town Hall, The Blue Note, Jazz at Lincoln Center, and Carnegie Hall with the New York Pops. Kole currently travels the country performing her two orchestral shows with pops orchestras, as well as traveling with her quartet. She has recorded with music legends David Brubeck, Oscar Peterson, Michel LeGrand, Hank Jones, John Pizzarelli, David Frishberg, Monty Alexander, Kenny Barron, and Freddy Cole among others.

Kole’s sophomore recording, You Are There was named Record Of The Year in USA Today and won the 2010 Bistro Award for Record of the Year. Her newest CD, A Self- Portrait, has been named as a top ten in USA Today. For more information visit

Jane Monheit

Jane Monheit’s Judy Garland tribute concert with her trio is called Hello Bluebird. “I want to get away from the drama, and celebrate what we all loved about Judy — the immense joy she brought through song, and her innate understanding of jazz. She did so much more than break hearts — she put them together again. And that’s what we’re going to be about with this show!”

Favorite Garland Quote: My favorite Garland quote is the perennial classic: “Always be a first-rate version of yourself instead a second-rate version of somebody else.”

Favorite Garland Film: That’s a hard one! Probably Meet Me In St. Louis.

How Garland Inspires You? My favorite thing about Garland was her ability to overcome all of her personal trials and tribulations to give the audience her all. No matter what was going on with her, when she sang, it was with a full heart. She uplifted her listeners even when she was low, and this had to have taken incredible strength.

Favorite Garland Song: “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” is my very favorite, followed closely by “For Me And My Gal” and “Easter Parade.”

Grammy-nominated jazz vocalist Jane Monheit has been a leading light in the jazz and cabaret worlds since emerging as a finalist in the Thelonious Monk Institute’s 1998 vocal competition. The Heart Of The Matter is Monheit’s ninth studio album. In addition to her own recordings, Monheit has worked alongside the likes of Terence Blanchard, Tom Harrell, and Ivan Lins. Learn more on Jane Monheit’s website.

Karen Mason

Cover_300Actress and singer Karen Mason has starred on Broadway, Off-Broadway, and television and is a ten-time MAC Award winner and has won the MAC Award for Major Female Vocalist of the Year for six consecutive years. In 2012, she and the Long Beach Symphony Orchestra presented the Judy Garland 50th Anniversary Carnegie Hall Concert, a song-for-song recreation of Garland’s historic concert at Carnegie Hall on April 23, 1961. Mason has also won the 2006 Nightlife Award for Major Female Vocalist and has three Bistro Awards.

Favorite Garland Quote: “Behind every cloud…is another cloud!” Come on! That is funny and real!

How Garland Inspires You? I have always loved hearing the patter in one of her concerts when she talks about her experience with a hairdresser. She is funny and silly and has the feelings we all have going to a new hairdresser! It is just so relatable and made me love her and think somehow we could be friends.

What Judy Garland’s artistry meant to me was a depth of honesty and commitment to her music, and to her communication of the songs. She had the persona of a smart, funny, generous friend who somehow listened to your problems, and then could give you some help through music and songs.

I have always tried to be as honest as possible when singing. To me, the important part of my performance is to communicate my feelings, and to be as honest as possible in the moment of the song. The power of music is in making us all feel a little less isolated and alone! If it is in a song, and the singer is relating it with honesty, then I can be assured that I am not the only one going through this. Judy Garland always made me feel a little less alone.

Favorite Garland Song: When researching her music for a concert I was doing with The Long Beach Symphony Orchestra I watched over and over again a clip of “You Made Me Love You” (I think from her TV show). It is simple and totally full of all the love a woman could have. And yet there is nothing showy at all about the performance, she just tells the story. She was a master storyteller. (Garland first sang this song in Broadway Melody of 1938.)

Favorite Garland Show: The CBS television show Garland hosted had some of the most powerful moments for those of us not fortunate enough to have seen her “live” in concert. You get to see the true artistry of a brilliant actress.

Karen Mason most recently garnered rave reviews starring as “The Queen of Hearts” in Wonderland on Broadway. She originated the role of “Tanya” on Broadway in Abba’s MAMMA MIA!, and was awarded a 2002 Drama Desk nomination as Best Actress. Her other leading roles include “Norma Desmond” in Sunset Boulevard, which she performed to critical acclaim and standing ovations on Broadway and in Los Angeles for three years.

Karen has headlined Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, Feinstein’s at The Regency, Rainbow & Stars, the Algonquin, Arci’ Place, The Supper Club and The Ballroom in NYC; The Cinegrill and the UCLA/ASCAP Concert Series in Los Angeles; The Plush Room in San Francisco; and Davenport’s in Chicago. Learn more on Karen Mason’s website.

Your Turn!

Share one, share them all in the comments section, below: What is your favorite Judy Garland quote, song, and film or television performance? What moment in her career, or aspect of her character inspires you most? The national encore of the Emmy Award-winning film Judy Garland: By Myself (2004) is March 20, 2015, 9-11 pm (ET) on PBS (check local listings).



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