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Johnny Mathis at Wolf Trap - He€s Still Got It!

Larry Saxton | 8/12/2009, 9:45 a.m.

When world famous crooner Johnny Mathis walked from the wings to the stage at Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts in Vienna, Va. on Sun., Aug. 9, an overflowing crowd of fans and admirers greeted him with a thunderous standing ovation, despite the humid 90+ degree weather. Known for singing some of the world€s most beautiful love songs for more than 50 years, Mathis,73, still has the ability to make his most ardent fans swoon, and he still can pack the house to the rafters.

After a medley of some of his best-loved hits, such as €Stranger in Paradise,€ €The Twelfth of Never,€ and €Brazil,€ Johnny surprised and delighted the audience with admirable versions of the Stylistics€ tune €You Make Me Feel Brand New,€ and the Little Anthony and the Imperials classic €I€m on the Outside Looking In.€ Rather than singing carbon copies of the originals, he gave his own inimitable version of each one.

When the opening bars of his super-classic €Misty€ were played, the audience anticipated the all-time favorite with resounding applause, and they were not disappointed. Mathis can still do that fabulous glide from high note to low that, among other things, distinguishes his rendition of €Misty€ from others.

It is amazing that more than five decades of singing and performing have not diminished Mathis€ ability to interpret timeless love songs so that the listener can imagine cool, calm evenings with starlight and romance. On the other hand, his plaintive ballads about lost love evoke feelings of heartache and sadness that most of us have experienced at some time in our lives. His voice has lost none of its rich quality, and his phrasing is still superb. When accompanied by the entire orchestra, Johnny€s voice soared just enough to be elegant. When accompanied by one guitar, his voice stood expressively on its own.

Judging from the audience€s reaction, the concert was a huge success. A long standing ovation at the end called him back for a brief encore, leaving all in attendance with the fervent wish that Mathis would come back onstage one more time to sing just a few more of the classics that have made his fans adore him.