I was hugely flattered to be asked to host a Perspectives series and to create a celebration of Carnegie Hall’s 120th birthday. We have been working up to this for the last two years. Carnegie Hall offered and we jumped right in.
Carnegie Hall is the top theater in the top town. It is an icon for performing artists, its very name means success. The first time I played here, in 1970, was the first time I was ever in the Hall I had been hearing about since I was a child. From the moment I walked in the door, it lived up to my expectations and to my imagination.
As part of this Perspectives, we are planning a series of four different concerts, starting with an all-star Gala on April 12. We continue with a Roots evening on April 20, focusing on the music I listened to growing up. In Guitar Conversations on May 6, I talk about guitar playing in general and my own style in particular—and get to play with a couple of my favorite guitarists. On May 9, we wrap up our short season in the spotlight with a program modestly titled Quintessential James Taylor, in which my band and I play what we consider our very best songs and attempt to live up to the honor Carnegie Hall has bestowed on me by inviting me to organize this series.
Carnegie Hall is the sort of venue that focuses a performer’s attention. Everyone who plays here wants to be at his very best. The world recognizes this as one of the great venues for classical music, but it is important to remember that folk music got played here, too. Blues, swing, R&B, and jazz were performed here. Rock ‘n’ roll got played here. Strauss, Gershwin, Sinatra, and The Beatles have all stood on this stage.
No series of concerts can summarize all the great music that Carnegie Hall has seen in its first 12 decades. What we can do is take a few evenings to be grateful for all the wonderful performers who have passed through, and hope to add a couple of appropriate links to the ongoing chain.
—James Taylor, April 2011
James Taylor made his Carnegie Hall debut on June 12, 1970.