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The Stories Behind The Songs

Harvey Granat serenades with

George Gershwin’s greatest hits 

With his smooth cabaret voice, singer Harvey Granat serenaded the audience at the Hicksville Public Library while performing the songs of the late American singer and songwriter George Gershwin on Sunday, April 27.

Granat is known for his performances being a combination of an artists’ songs and interesting stories from the artists’ lives. He did more than just sing during his performance; he also told the audience stories about Gershwin, from letters and manuscripts Granat has compiled.

Granat began incorporating storytelling into his performances while he was entertaining at a resort about eight years ago. A person at the resort asked him the question, “Do you know how the song was written and when it came about?” and Granat responded, “As a matter of fact I do.”

“I told the story and this person said that I should tell more stories like that,” he said. “People seem to like it. It separates me from the bunch.”

A few songs that Granat performed included “Swanee,” “Our Love is Here to Stay,” “They Can’t Take That Away From Me,” “Someone to Watch Over Me,” and more of Gershwin’s original songs.

Most of the members of the audience were older, and looking to be brought back to a time that they remember fondly. Two of these audience members were Mildred Dreyer and Gail Zaino.

“It brought back some great memories,” said Zaino, who commented that the music put her in a dancing mood. “I thought of going to weddings with my husband and dancing to these songs.”

“He has a great voice,” said Dreyer. “I enjoyed it so much. It was very entertaining.”

Not only were the audience members entertained by the music, but they also learned new things from the stories that Granat told of Gershwin. Zaino and Dreyer especially enjoyed hearing all of the Gershwin stories and learned new information about the singer.

In addition to being an entertainer, Granat is an investment banker and has taught a class called “The History of the American Songbook” at LIU Post. He is also a music restorian and collects memorabilia from his favorite musicians.

“My favorite stuff happens to be George Gershwin, but I have many composers in my collection,” he said.

Some artists that are in his collection include Cole Porter, Richard Rodgers, and Irving Berlin. “They were the greats in that period of time,” added Granat.

Recently Granat moved into New York City but previously lived in Port Washington, and also lived in Manhasset for 30 years.

He has been singing and performing since he was a young boy. “I come from a musical family,” he said. “I’ve loved to sing since I was a kid.”

Granat entertains at county clubs, restaurants, hotels, and many other engagements. He frequently travels to Canyon Ranch in the Berkshires in Arizona, but also performs locally. His next local performance will be at Plainview Public Library on May 3 at 8 p.m. as well as at Manhasset Public Library on May 13 at 2 p.m.