BAR HARBOR — When music producer and critic Lawrence Schulman was a kid in the 1960s, he saw Judy Garland sing on television and was transfixed. He went to see her perform live several times. In the decades since her 1969 death, he has researched her life, collected and produced rare recordings, and written and presented about the star.
He’ll share some of those rare recordings at a talk about Garland’s life, career and music at the Jesup Memorial Library on Wednesday, June 6, at 7 p.m. The presentation will include audio and video clips and a question-and-answer session.
A double LP of a concert Garland gave at Carnegie Hall in 1961 won the Grammy for Album of the Year back when popular music mostly came from movie and Broadway musicals. The record included classics by Aaron Copland, George Gershwin, Harold Arlen and Irving Berlin.
“She was kind of an emblem of the Great American Songbook,” he said, “and she was vocally at her peak.”
Schulman said he has always been impressed by “the quality of her voice, the great songs she was singing and what a great contributor to the musical scene she was.”
“The Wizard of Oz,” released in 1939, was Garland’s big break, but she had already been performing for more than a decade. Born into a show business family, she was on stage in vaudeville shows before the age of 3. Garland was the youngest of the Gum Sisters trio, who appeared in films beginning in 1929, when she was 7 years old.
“Even when she was a kid, she had the loudest and most remarkable voice,” Schulman said.
“The Wizard of Oz” wasn’t even her first major film role. She starred in a film called “Pigskin Parade” at 14, already fully in command of her powerful voice and performing presence. The hit song from that film, “It’s Love I’m After,” is one of the clips in Schulman’s talk.
She was signed by MGM in 1935. She worked with a musical coach there to tone down the loud, vaudeville voice for quieter, more reflective scenes on film.
“She was multitalented,” Schulman said. “Her acting was remarkable — she had this aura around her.”
She was even nominated for an Oscar in 1962 for her role as a German housewife in the nonmusical “Judgment at Nuremburg.”
Schulman has been responsible for numerous CD sets devoted to Garland over the past 24 years; he wrote the liner notes for most of them. He produced a four-CD set in 2010 called “Judy Garland: Lost Tracks.” His 2013 four-CD set, “Judy Garland: Creations,” and his 2014 five-CD set, “Judy Garland: The Garland Variations,” were nominated by the website The Second Disc as the best jazz and vocal reissues of the year. He produced another three-CD set in 2015, “Judy Garland: Swan Songs, First Flights.”
Schulman also has written extensively about Garland for the “ARSC Journal,” including the article “The Plagued History of Judy Garland and Liza Minnelli ‘Live’ at the London Palladium, 1965-2009.” He is responsible for the release of Garland’s historic 1935 Decca test records, and he unearthed the complete recording of “Lose That Long Face” from the 1954 film “A Star Is Born” and her 1960 concert at the Paris Olympia, and he had those records issued.
Schulman lived in Paris for 26 years and was a producer and host on France Musique and France Culture. He’s a music critic and translator and currently translates for the French music website OpusHD.net.
For more on the talk, contact the Jesup at 288-4245 or [email protected].