11/12/02

Crosbyheads Commune at Hofstra

Ba da Bing, ba da. . . Crosby? The crooner has been charming the public with a smooth voice and smoother lyrics since the 1940s, and continues this weekend, 25 years after his death, at an enormous conference at Hofstra University in New York from Nov. 14-16. The bid to Bing Crosby will feature scholars, musicians and friends including jazz writers Gary Giddins and Bill Milkowski, vocalist Margaret Whiting, Fred Astaire’s daughter Ava, Peggy Lee’s daughter Nicki, Crosby’s wife Kathryn, son Nathaniel, grandson Steve and many others. The extended-family reunion may sound like a celebrity clambake, but the event represents a continuing reassessment of Crosby’s contributions to American culture, goosed by Giddins’ 2001 book Bing Crosby: A Pocketful of Dreams—The Early Years 1903-1940 (Little Brown & Company).

Unfortunately, some listeners don’t consider Crosby a serious artist—perhaps they only know Bing as the man who sweet-talked Louis Armstrong in “Gone Fishin’.” But as Giddins explains, “No one in the era of Madonna and Michael Jackson has quite the same station as the much-treasured crooner.”

For more information on the weekend’s festivities, visit www.hofstra.edu/campusl/culture/culture_crosby.cfm.

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