South Pacific

Kiss Me Kate

Ragtime

Prince of Egypt

Gershwin 100

Cabaret Noel

Lunch

Kiss of the Spider Woman

Queenie Pie (never released)

Abandoned Garden

 

Simply Broadway--Available now!

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Stokes first solo Album
available now

The long-awaited debut recording for a singer and actor that defies categorizing. Equally at home with a standard, a showtune or a jazz infused classic, Brian Stokes Mitchell’s voice stands out in a league all its own, making comparisons almost impossible. His musicianship, vocal instrument and ability to turn a phrase, can evoke a mood or an emotion and cause a thrilling “chill” - all at the same time. Stokes’ choices of songs, arrangements and orchestrations are beautifully mixed by 14 time GRAMMY winner, Al Schmitt.

Hear clips of the entire album, learn more about Stokes appearances, and buy a copy at Playbill Records.


See all of Stoke’s recordings on Amazon

Read Stoke’s notes on selected recordings.

South Pacific from Carnegie Hall

Stokes and Reba McIntire’s staged reading at Carnegie Hall brings the musical to life in a new way. Reba’s country charm is perfect for little-ol Nellie, and Stoke’s breathtaking baratone breathes new life into Some Enchanted Evening, and literally stops the show with This Nearly was Mine. A DVD of the entire performance is available here.

Kiss Me Kate

1999 Broadway cast recording. “Brian Stokes Mitchell and Marin Mazzie (both alums of Ragtime) are in glorious voice as the feuding stars. Surprisingly, when this production debuted on Broadway in the fall of 1999, it was the show's first-ever major revival. The original 1948 cast recording is still great listening, but this is a Kiss Me, Kate for the new century. --David Horiuchi, Amazon.com

“The Complete
Shakespeare Sonnets”

This is a spoken-word album that was conceived and produced by Kathleen Turner with a number of different actors interpreting Shakespeare’s love Sonnets. Some of the other performers are Al Pacino, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Amy Irving, Anne Jackson, Alfred Molina, Natasha Richardson, Patrick Stewart, Eli Wallach, Kathleen Turner and my wife, Allyson Tucker. It was released on Valentine’s day of 2000 (of course!). FYI: Part of the profits of this album go to support the charity “Planned Parenthood”.

DoReMi CD
In May, 1999, Stokes appeared in a limited production of DoReMi with Nathan Lane and Heather Headley. A cast recording was made and is available.

The "Encores!" concert revival of Do Re Mi, the 1960 Jule Styne-Betty Comden-Adolph Green musical, featured Stokes singing "Make Someone Happy." The show also featured Lewis J. Stadlen, Stephen DeRosa, Lee Wilkof, Michael Mulheren. John Rando directed and Paul Gemignani guest conducted. Also in the score are "It's Legitimate," "I Know About Love," and "Fireworks."

Prince of Egypt
Stokes sings Through Heaven's Eyes in the animated film, and in this best-selling recording

Gershwin 100th
Birthday Celebration

Composer: George Gershwin
Conductor: Michael Tilson Thomas

“As a tribute to America's most popular composer, these swinging, idiomatic performances are irresistible.” (Amazon.com)

Ragtime
Music by Stephen Flaherty  Lyrics by Lynn Ahrens Book by Terrence McNally
BMG Music Canada/Livent Music

Two or 3 months into performing "Kiss of the Spider Woman" on Broadway, the Producer, Garth Drabinsky approached me and said "I have a role I want you to do.  I can't tell you what it is yet, but I think you'd be great in it". I told him I'd love to hear more about it and every month or so he would approach me and say something like "Still got that part. Still want you to do it. Still can't tell you what it is." Finally one day he came up to me and said "All right, I can tell you now. The show is "Ragtime". The part is Coalhouse Walker, Jr. I think you'd be great in it. It's yours if you want it. We are doing a workshop of it in a few months." Of course I said "yes" and shortly after flew to Canada to do the first of 3 workshops for the show. 

About a month after the 3rd workshop, the cast was flown back up to Toronto where we recorded over the course of 2 days. The album was to be called "Songs from Ragtime". It was considered a "concept" album because it was done before the actual show was mounted.  We recorded the album at Manta sound in Toronto and it was produced by Jay Sacks and conducted by Ted Sperling. Because of the massive size of the company (50+ members) and the size of the orchestra we were actually spread out in about 5 different rooms. The orchestra in the main studio, soloists just off that studio in a smaller isolation booth, and then 3 other rooms that were connected via TV (to the conductor) that fit most of the ensemble members.

It was especially exciting because of the new material. It was also the first time that we got to hear Bill Brohn's exquisite orchestrations.  One of the songs "That's the Show Biz" was written only a day or two before the recording and the performers Jim Corti (Houdini) and Lynette Perry (Evelyn Nesbit) were still learning it in the studio. But you would never know it from their terrific performances.

I also got a new song called "Make them hear you". Stephen and Lynn called me a week or so before the session while we were still all in New York and said that they had written a new song for Coalhouse that would come at the end of the second act. I went over to Stephen's apartment and he played the song for me. We did the usual toying around with keys (although Stephen knows my voice very well and I think we ended up with the original key) and also with endings. He had written two endings to the song - a short version and a longer one. After taking the song home and playing with it, I thought that it would be best to go with the longer one since I thought it was more "exciting". Fortunately, Stephen and Lynn agreed. 

Unlike the other songs in the show that I had already done a number of times, "Make them hear you" was new, so during the session I read from the music since it wasn't committed to memory. We recorded it at the end of the day. Like the "Spider Woman..." sessions, we recorded live with the orchestra, to be later assembled on a computer (if full takes weren't used). I wasn't quite happy with the takes that we ended up with, so the next day I came back and redid my vocal 2 or three times. I am pretty happy I did.

Particularly if you are a theater buff, I think that this album is a real good one to have because one gets to hear songs and parts of songs that no longer exist in the production ("That's the show biz", a great song, has since been cut; "Make them hear you" had its middle section changed; "He wanted to say" has had some changes, to name a few examples). You get to hear a work in progress, well,... in progress. There are also some spectacular performances on the album, and it could turn out to be a real collector's item some day. A "Broadway" album is planned after the New York opening. There is also a documentary that was taped called "The making of 'Songs from Ragtime'" that aired in Canada during the Winter of 1997.

Cabaret Noel:
A Broadway Cares Christmas

Various artists and composers

I have spent hundreds of hours in recording studios, but "A Broadway Christmas" marked my first performance on a publicly sold CD. 

I was approached by the producer while I was doing "Kiss of the Spider Woman" to be a part of this album. I was told that this was to be a fund raising album for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS (BCEFA), a terrific charity that helps people fighting AIDS with everyday expenses and necessities. I was asked to pick a Christmas song that I would like to do. 

I have always liked "The Christmas Song" and decided it would be fun to put it together with a song I wrote called "A crazy Christmas List". I also decided that it would be fun to do the arrangement with a jazz guitar, instead of the usual piano. I called on Steve Bargonetti , the wonderful guitarist who was in the "pit" while I was doing "Jelly's Last Jam" and he graciously agreed to join me.

I have always been fond of odd musical meters (5/4, 7/4, 11/4, etc.,) and thought that these meters would capture the "craziness" of the Christmas season quite well. So I sketched out an arrangement that constantly switches between 5/4 and 6/4 bars, went over to Steve's apartment and rehearsed with him a few times.

However, once I got to the studio, I got some "fresh inspiration" so I reassembled the music on the floor of the recording studio with a pen and some scissors and scotch tape. Fortunately Steve is a tremendous musician and was right with me. We put down 5 or 6 takes (all of the tracks were done live with no overdubbing), before we ran out of time. What you hear (on all of the tracks) is 1 straight take with no punch-ins or overdubs. It is one of the things that makes this album so much fun.

If you like Broadway performers and want to hear them doing some Christmas songs that are both old and new, I recommend this album. Also, a large part of your purchase goes to a very worthy cause - BCEFA.

Lunch
Music by Steve Dorff,
Lyrics by John Bettis
WEA Mfg., First Lunch Album Company (F.L.A.C.-1001):

I had done a production of a new musical called "Lunch" at the Cherry county playhouse that was written by Steve Dorff (music), John Bettis (Lyrics) and Rick Hawkins (Book). Steve asked if I would like to recreate my performance on a "concept album" they were doing with a number of different people - Carol Burnett, Melissa Manchester, Faith Prince... How could I say no?

I sing on 3 different cuts on this album: The first is "Requiem for a Lightweight" with Mark Morales and Diane Delano. The three of us played construction workers vying for the same foreman job. The next cut I appear on is on "Skyline", which was recorded with Kim Carnes and B.J. Thomas, although through the magic of recording we were never in the same room (or state for that matter). They recorded their tracks first, and since I was in NYC doing "Kiss..." Steven came out recorded my lines at the Hit Factory.

The last track, "A Man Like Me", was an idea of Steve's, especially since he knew I did a lot of character voice-overs. The "wacky" guy is me.

Kiss of the Spider Woman
Music by John Kander 
Lyrics by Fred Ebb
Polygram Records

This was my first REAL Broadway show album. I had started my run in this show with Chita Rivera as a replacement to Anthony Crivello, the original "Valentin", but we didn't re-record the album until Vanessa Williams joined the show (since the original cast had already recorded an album).

We recorded these tracks at the Hit Factory in New York live with the orchestra. In the "old" days, cast albums were recorded this way. Then in the 70's and 80's some albums were recorded with the singer isolated from the orchestra so that the singer could later go back and "punch in" lines or whole songs that were not at their best. Nowadays, most producers choose once again to record the singer live with the orchestra, and if there is a part that is not quite up to snuff (a pitchy note, a bad cutoff, whatever...), you either go back and record the whole song or just the offending section of the song again - singer AND orchestra. The different takes (if more than 1 is used) are later intercut using a computer. This demands that the conductor keep a very steady tempo and it demands that the orchestra play very consistently, but with the quality of musicians found in theater orchestras, this usually is not a problem. And the conductor of this session was Ted Sperling, one of the finest show conductors in the world, so we were certainly in good hands.

For most of this album we recorded our vocals while we were in an isolation booth - i.e.. "Dear one," "I Draw the Line", "Gabriel's Letter/My First Woman". However, I found that for me it was not so conducive to a good musical "vibe", especially since I was so used to singing live with this same orchestra every night. Since they had set up mics for the singers in the same room as the orchestra, I asked to record my solos "The Day After That" and "Marta" right there with them. With both songs, we recorded the "rehearsals" with the orchestra. Even though we recorded 2 more takes of each song, the first "rehearsal" takes turned out so well, that those are what you hear on the album. There was a wonderful "feeling in the air" while I was singing, but I knew that we had really hit something special when after singing "Marta", John Kander came out of the booth with tears in his eyes.

Queenie Pie
Music by Duke Ellington, Lyrics by Various lyricists.
Never Released

I did a concert version of an unfinished Duke Ellington musical called "Queenie Pie" at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. It was performed with the Duke Ellington orchestra under the baton of Duke's son, Mercer Ellington.

A month or so after we finished, Mercer called and said that he wanted to do an album of the show. So I headed on down to 9th avenue in the 40's in NYC, and recorded 3 of my tracks - "I Didn't Know About You", "Woman" and "Cafe Olay". Also appearing on the album are 2 of my favorite singers - Cleo Lane and Roberta Flack. Unfortunately, Mercer's untimely death is one of the factors that has contributed to the album not being released yet, but keep your eyes and ears open.

Mercer's untimely death is one of the factors that probably contibuted to the album not being released. It seems to have disappeared into the mysterious black hole of unfinished albums. Perhaps some day...

Michael Frank's Abandoned Garden
Music and Lyrics by Michael Franks

I got a call from my agent one day asking if I would be interested in playing Gaugin in a workshop of a Michael Franks musical at playwrights about his life called Noa Noa. I have been a fan of Michael Franks for quite a few years, so of course I said yes. It turned out to be more fun and more interesting than I had imagined. It turns out that Michael is a huge "Gauginophile" and a lot of the music appeared on his "Blue Pacific" album. He had never done a musical before and Don Scardino, the artistic director of playwrights horizons, was fascinated with the idea.

The music turned out to be very challenging to learn because of Michael's unique and jazzy sense of rhythm and melody. We performed 2 workshops of the show with a combo of 3 players from his band. It turned out to be one of the most interesting theatrical pieces that I have done - A kind of impressionistic song cycle on the life and loves of Gaugin.

A few months later, Michael asked if I would sing the duet "In the yellow house" with him on his new album "Abandoned Garden", an album that he did in homage to his friend and great composer Antonio Carlos Jobim. The song is a duet between Gaugin and his friend Vincent Van Gogh. We recorded the vocals after the basic music tracks had been laid down. Even after getting to know him during the workshop, it was a trip to actually sing with this voice that I had listened to so much and a real treat to hook in with his unique singing style and wonderfully tasty back phrasing. 
 

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