Born in New York on 8th
July 1947, Gerard is the "Son Of A Song And Dance
Man". He showed a prodigious talent at the piano,
making his public debut at the age of six, accompanying his
father, Vincent Kenny, on stage at St. Boniface Church
Hall, Glen Cove, Long Island, playing the beautiful
standard "Where Or When". The early tutoring from
his father, combined with the powerful influences of the
60's musical explosion, produced his unique style, mixing
vaudeville with contemporary sounds. From high school
onwards, Gerard had a series of bands, including one with
Billy Joel. Teaching music, he played his way through
Hofstra University, where he majored in Music & TV
Communications. The piano bars around Greenwich
Village provided a rich training ground for Gerard during
the early 70's, leading to a song-writing partnership with
New York lyricist Drey Shepperd which continues to this
day. Among their many memorable collaborations, probaby the
best known is the inspirational "I Made it Through The
Rain" which became an international hit for Barry
1977 saw Gerard's career taking a different direction, when he travelled to Europe to appear for seven months at the "Pappagayo Club" in St. Tropez. Visiting England en route back to the States, a fortuitous invitation to a birthday party for Dennis Waterman resulted in his meeting with Deke Arlon, who, recognising Gerard's talent, took on his management and a recording contract with RCA was soon signed. Several chart successes followed, including, in 1978, the song that's virtually become his theme tune, "New York, New York (So Good They Named It Twice)", which he performed on "Top Of The Pops". Another hit, "Fantasy", charted twice in one year, 1980.
Naturally, Gerard's song-writing talents didn't go unnoticed, and before long his songs were being recorded by other such high profile artistes as Perry Como, Johnny Mathis, Shirley Bassey, Sacha Distel, James Last, Jack Jones and Marion Montgomery.
1981 brought Gerard the Ivor Novello Award for the Best Television Theme Music for his song "I Could Be So Good For You" written with Dennis Waterman and used for the TV series "Minder".
Throughout his career, Gerard has toured extensively, right across the USA and world-wide with Chuck Berry, Sheena Easton, The Pointer Sisters, Dionne Warwick and Connie Francis. He spent two years as Spike Milligan's Musical Director, for his show "Spike Milligan & Friends", taking the show from London's West End onto a tour of Australia, which cemented a firm friendship between the two.
In 1983 Gerard was Barry Manilow's Special Guest at the spectacular concert at Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire, where he played to a crowd of more than 40,000. This was followed later that year by a BBC Television Special at The Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, entitled "Gerard Kenny In Concert", before an audience of more than 3,000. That same year also brought Gerard together with someone he credits with teaching him an enormous amount about song-writing - Alan Jay Lerner. Alan was looking for a composer with whom to collaborate in writing a musical version of "My Man Godfrey", based on the 1930's film starring Carole Lombard and William Powell. Gerard's instinctive feel for the 30's music made him Alan's obvious choice, and they wrote several wonderful songs for the show. Sadly, Alan died with the project still incomplete. During their period of working together, Alan and Gerard were commissioned to write a special lullaby for Prince Harry, with the proceeds going to Princess Diana's charity "Birthright". The song "Brocades And Coronets" was performed by Elaine Paige, accompanied by Gerard, at a Royal Gala for Princess Diana at the London Palladium in June 1987.
In addition to writing with Alan, Gerard has also collaborated with many other talented lyricists such as Don Black, Barry Mason and Ned Sherrin . A songwriter at heart, he continues to this day, writing whenever inspiration strikes.
In the late 80's, Gerard returned to New York to work on various musical projects with Drey Shepperd and perform in cabaret in New York, Atlantic City and Long Island. However, by the 1990's Gerard was once more in England, where, in addition to taking his show, accompanied by a 4 piece band, around theatres throughout the UK, he made a powerful impact on two of the major cabaret venues in London:
In December 1994 Gerard's first two week season at the Green Room at the Cafê Royal in London's Regent Street proved so popular that he was invited back for three further seasons, until the closure of the Green Room in early 1999 prevented any further performances there.
'The Pizza On The Park' an intimate jazz club in London's Knightsbridge, offered the perfect setting for Gerard's special brand of show. From his first two week season in 1992, his appearances there became an annual highlight of the London music scene. Tony Patrick of The Times, reviewing Gerard's 1996 'Pizza On The Park' shows, observed that the club was "dazzlingly illuminated by his exuberance and sheer joy in performing - a musician whose bright and breezy persona may sometimes obscure his real depth and worth" By a strange quirk of fate, Gerard was in the middle of his two weeks at 'The Pizza on The Park' in 2001 when the devastating events of September 11th occurred. Professional as ever, he went on stage each night as scheduled, and produced the most remarkable performances, including on the evening of the 11th itself, despite what must have been his own extremely powerful emotions regarding the huge tragedy in his home town. As Peter Leavy wrote in the USA magazine 'Cabaret': "he achieved that most extraordinary gift of his art: the ability to transcend a crushing reality of the moment and lift the spirits of his audience for a wonderfully pleasurable few hours." Sadly, this wonderful venue closed its doors for the last time in June 2010, and, after 19 years of playing there, Gerard joined Patricia Hodge, Janie Dee and Steve Ross in the farewell show.
In addition to his very active performing career, over the past 15 years Gerard has been involved in several major song-writing projects with Drey Shepperd, principally the two musicals given below. Such is Gerard's versatility that, though perhaps more known for his deeply emotional ballads, he can as easily turn his hand to writing funky rock songs and, indeed, comedy. Here Drey Shepperd's witty and inventive lyrics come into their own, and Gerard never fails to match them with the most superbly crafted tunes.
ONE MORE TURN
A musical inspired by "Dancers Over Forty", an organisation representing the interests of older dancers who can no longer get professional dancing work once they reach a certain age. The organisation is supported by some of world's best known and loved dancers, such as Chita Rivera and the late Bob Fosse. There has been considerable interest in this show on both sides of the Atlantic, and hopefully it won't be too long before we see it going into production.
A musical comedy focussing on a group of high school graduates, enjoying their 'gap summer' before entering college: it explores their exploits and their relationships. Funny, poignant, racy, exuberant - the show swept 3 Awards at the Vivian Ellis New Musicals Showcase at the London Palladium in September 1999, and was the outright winner of the top award for Most Promising New Musical.
'Beach Radio' was performed at Cap 21 Theater in New York during October/November 2002.
Although Gerard released several albums in the early to mid nineties, it has been some time since a new album has been available. However, April 2005 saw just that happening, with the superb "COMING HOME", released on the Park Records Label, PRKCD78, an album that was well worth the wait! A wonderful mix of Gerard's own stunning originals and timeless standards, all performed to perfection. It feels like Gerard is singing to you in your own living room!
May 2005 brought Gerard's first ever appearance at legendary Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club in London. Backed by the superb double bass of Pete Morgan, formerly of the Dudley Moore Trio, and drummer extraordinaire Andy McBride, Gerard performed a knock-out two sets, leaving the sold out audience positively bouncing in their seats - the joint was definitely jumpin'!
February 2006 saw Gerard back on the theatre circuit, with a week long tour, taking in, among others, The Stables, Milton Keynes and culminating in a rapturously received show at The Floral Pavilion, New Brighton, after a 10 year absence! He definitely won't be leaving it that long to return!
On the record front, in addition to COMING HOME, there is now another album available on Park Records. Released at the end of 2007, and recorded during the 2006 tour at Swindon Arts Centre, "GERARD KENNY IN CONCERT" (PRKCD95) perfectly captures the joy and vitality of Gerard's live show. The CD comes with a bonus DVD so the show can be watched whenever the mood takes you.
Gerard was back on the road again in October 2011, touring with his 'Great American Songbook' show. Accompanied by the wonderful Sandy Burnett on bass and Nick Poyner on drums, he performed at The Stables, Milton Keynes, Swindon Arts Centre and The Pheasantry, Kings Road, London. Since then, while no full scale tours have been undertaken, Gerard has performed one-off shows at Warners venues, such as the newly refurbished Alvaston Hall in Cheshire. His theatre appearances have included The Chequer Mead in East Grinstead, The Garrick Theatre in Lichfield and the wonderfully intimate Pheasantry in Kings Road, London - Pizza Express', premier London cabaret venue, where Gerard's sold out shows never fail to delight!
As ever, Gerard continues to enthrall audiences everywhere with his warm and charismatic performances, encompassing his own compositions and also the lovely standards of Cole Porter, Gershwin etc, - the kind of music so close to his heart. His love of the music that was born in him is evident with every note he joyously plays and every word he passionately sings. As Gerard himself says:
"Once I discovered the piano, that was it. It takes a lifetime to really get to know 'her'. 'She's' the ultimate mistress. I can't resist 'her'!"
A consummate professional, with his piano playing second to none, Gerard gives his heart and soul in every performance.