En­gel­bert Humperdinck in­vites fans to share in his ‘Call­ing’

Grammy-win­ning singer cel­e­brates ca­reer

The Washington Times Weekly - - Culture, Etc. - BY EMILY CARY

Ever since En­gel­bert Humperdinck’s first al­bum in 1967, the pop idol has mes­mer­ized au­di­ences with his dy­namic voice and ir­re­sistible style, pack­ing con­cert halls and sell­ing mil­lions of records. Now he in­vites Wash­ing­ton-area fans to share an evening of mu­si­cal mem­o­ries and dance­able rhythms from “En­gel­bert Call­ing,” his lat­est al­bum.

“For nearly 50 years, I’ve al­ways looked for­ward to per­form­ing for my fans,” Mr. Humperdinck told The Wash­ing­ton Times from Los An­ge­les. “I’ve been very for­tu­nate in my ca­reer, and I love look­ing back through those amaz­ing years that first took me around the world, play­ing to sell­out con­certs.”

The ti­tle “En­gel­bert Call­ing,” he said, comes from a com­ment El­ton John made years ago when, as a strug­gling song­writer, he kept hop­ing the tele­phone would ring with En­gel­bert on the other end look­ing for a new song. Now, Mr. Humperdinck joins Mr. John, Smokey Robin­son, Johnny Mathis, Wil­lie Nel­son, Olivia New­tonJohn, Charles Az­navour, Wynonna Judd, Kenny Rogers, Neil Sedaka and other friends to re­visit old fa­vorites in fresh ways.

“I wanted to sing a duet with each of them, but it would have been im­pos­si­ble to work per­son­ally with the var­i­ous artists, wher­ever they might be,” Mr. Humperdinck said, but “thanks to this elec­tronic world, I sim­ply sent them the ini­tial track. They each put their voice on it and sent it back to me to be com­pleted. The only two able to come to the LA stu­dio to sing with me were El­ton John and Gene Sim­mons, who brought hu­mor and life into the stu­dio by ad-lib­bing with El­ton and me.”

Mr. Humperdinck has earned Gram­mys, 1988’s Golden Globe En­ter­tainer of the Year, 63 gold records, 24 plat­inum records and a star on the Hol­ly­wood Walk of Fame. He al­ways keeps his fans in mind, tour­ing ex­ten­sively to per­form for them. The “En­gel­bert Call­ing” tour stops at 30 ma­jor cities in the U.S., Canada and his na­tive United King­dom.

Mr. Humperdinck grew up in Le­ices­ter, Eng­land, and re­mem­bers walk­ing across the park­ing lot where the re­mains of King Richard III were re­cently un­earthed. He main­tains a home there and was in­vited to at­tend the re­burial cer­e­mony in Le­ices­ter Cathe­dral this month, but his tour sched­ule was im­pos­si­ble to shift.

Mr. Humperdinck’s life has changed dramatically since he started his ca­reer by en­ter­ing a vo­cal con­test un­der his real name, Arnold Ge­orge Dorsey, and won for his im­per­son­ation of Jerry Lewis. That put him on the U.K. mu­sic cir­cuit un­til a bout with tu­ber­cu­lo­sis side­lined his plans. When he was able to re­sume his ca­reer, his manager de­cided a new name would throw him back into the spot­light. The name he sug­gested be­longed to a Ger­man com­poser who lived 200 years ear­lier and proved to be mem­o­rable.

“I’ve al­ways loved melo­di­ous, ro­man­tic mu­sic, and although I un­der­stand that change is in­evitable, I’m thrilled to see a brand-new gen­er­a­tion of fans emerg­ing who em­brace the mu­sic I sing,” Mr. Humperdinck said. “To honor all my fans, I cre­ated the Har­mony Pen­dant in the shape of a tre­ble clef with a heart in the mid­dle. When I look out into the au­di­ence, I’m al­ways amazed by the num­ber who are wear­ing my pen­dant.”

Af­ter con­certs in Birm­ing­ham, Manch­ester and Lon­don’s Royal Al­bert Hall, he will go on to Tel Aviv be­fore closing in Bel­gium.

As he trav­els, Mr. Humperdinck is com­pil­ing a doc­u­men­tary. It, too, will be a gift to his fans.

“Be­ing in the stu­dio is my cre­ative side,” he said. “That’s where I’ve put out more than 80 al­bums and com­pi­la­tions, but there’s noth­ing bet­ter than walk­ing on stage and see­ing live peo­ple.” With a chuckle, he added, “For many years, women tossed me their un­der­wear in ap­pre­ci­a­tion of my songs, and it does still hap­pen, but to­day my older fans are more se­date.”

En­gel­bert Humperdinck

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