Barry Manilow’s Heartwarming Encore: A Very Barry Christmas and a Lifetime of Hits

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Barry Manilow, at 80, is a whirlwind of creativity and zeal, far from slowing down. His recent NBC special, “Barry Manilow’s A Very Barry Christmas,” airs tonight at 10 p.m. ET/PT. Filmed at Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino, it merges his timeless hits with a festive touch, featuring holiday classics like “Jingle Bells,” “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” and a sprinkle of his chart-toppers including “Mandy,” “I Write the Songs,” and the iconic “Copacabana.”

Directed by Matt Askew of Weekends With Adele, this marks Manilow’s third Christmas-themed TV special. Despite plans for another Christmas album this year, the chaos of the past year altered his course. “This year was like the craziest year ever,” Manilow shared with Billboard.

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From a New York Pops tribute to Carnegie Hall in May to a triumphant Broadway opening of “Harmony,” a musical with collaborator Bruce Sussman, Manilow has been ceaselessly active. His relationship with television has been enduring, earning him Emmys in 1977 for his debut special and again in 2006 for PBS’s “Manilow: Music and Passion.”

Reflecting on his success, Manilow believes in connecting authentically, a sentiment he carries into his performances. His Christmas show, a delightful blend of holiday cheer and his iconic tunes, encapsulates his genuine emotional approach to music. “If it doesn’t make me feel something, and if it doesn’t make the audience feel something, then I’ve missed; then I haven’t done it right,” he emphasized.

The genesis of his association with the term “Fanilow” traces back to a witty reference on “Will & Grace” in 2003. Initially hesitant, Manilow gradually embraced the term as fans proudly proclaimed themselves as “Fanilows.”

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His recent engagements at Radio City Music Hall, spanning five consecutive nights, mark a milestone for any artist, let alone someone with a career as illustrious as Manilow’s. When questioned about his enduring stamina, he quips, “I don’t sleep and I don’t eat. That’s my secret.”

“Harmony,” a project conceived in 1997 with Sussman, finally saw its Broadway debut this year after a hectic journey. Reflecting on potential accolades like the Kennedy Center Honors, Manilow remains grounded, humbled by the thought but realistic about the recognition he may or may not receive.

Manilow’s journey through decades of music, television, and live performances is a testament to resilience and unwavering dedication. As he continues to mesmerize audiences, his legacy extends far beyond the stage, resonating in the hearts of devoted fans and music enthusiasts alike.

In the realm of entertainment, Barry Manilow remains a true maestro, orchestrating melodies that echo through time, infusing joy and nostalgia into every note.

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