Barry Manilow is a name that's synonymous with success. The music icon and legend has had a career spanning five decades, and it's not slowing down anytime soon.
Nor is his desire to give back to the community in which he lives.
That's why he's again planned a series of five concerts to raise money for Coachella Valley-based charities, through a second installment of "Gift of Love," which was first performed at the McCallum Theatre in 2009. "Gift of Love II" runs December 11, 12, 14, 15 and 16 at the same venue and will honor 27 local charities each night.
"There are just great people here in the Coachella Valley and I’m happy to be able to do this kind of thing five nights to say thank you to the community," Manilow told Patch.
Manilow, who has called Palm Springs home for the last 15 years, says that while all the charities on the list are worthy and offer up great services to the community, there are two in particular that stand out in his mind.
"They’re all really, great, great people, but the two that speak to me are the Barbara Sinatra [Children's Center] because we know Barbara, and what she does is great, and the Guide Dogs of the Desert because I kind of know everybody there-- and one of the dogs I have was an ex-guide dog-- and it’s an amazing organization, what they do," he said.
In 2009, the concert series raised nearly $500,000 for local organizations. This year, that number will likely be reached- or surpassed- as ticket sales are on track to sell out for all five shows, Patch is told.
Tickets range in price from $25 to $250, and are available now here.
Manilow-- who just scored his 50th Billboard hit and has sold some 80 million records to date-- says that as long as he keeps riding this wave, he'll be here to help.
"I’m always kind of waiting for the other shoe to drop from my career," Manilow humbly said while chatting with Patch backstage at the McCallum. "I’m kind of waiting for it to just be over, I’ve always felt that way… I come from Brooklyn, we always just wait for the bad part to happen."
"But my career just doesn’t want to stop and I’m so grateful about it and for the public to still be on my side. When I get an opportunity to do stuff like this, I jump at it... I loved doing [the concert] the first time, and I thought this would be a good time to do it again."
Calling the Valley Home
It was the lure of a weekend hangout that first brought the superstar here in the 90s, but it was ultimately the Internet that made it possible for him to stay and take up residence.
"I just fell in love with the place and about 15 years ago, I said ‘I think I’d like to base out of here for real,'" Manilow shared with Patch. "I thought, ‘Oh wow, my career is going to be over if I don’t live in L.A., and I haven’t got the recording studios'... But what happened about 15 years ago was the Internet, and I built myself a recording studio and I haven’t slowed down. And it’s much more fun to do it here in my recording studio than get into traffic in L.A. and drive to Capital studios and people’s houses and all. I can do everything that I did living in L.A... because of the Internet."
What's more, Manilow says he has been welcomed into the area with open arms.
"The people in Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley are so kind to me… they say the greatest things," he said. "They protect me; they protect their celebrities. I see them, the waitresses and the maître d's in restaurants or the people who own stores, they’re so great to me, and if they see people starting to bother me, they get in the way. Not that anybody ever bothers me, but if they see something happening, they jump, and I just am so grateful for them treating me like this."
As will all of us locals, Manilow has his favorite places around town, and even music sensations play tour guide from time to time. As for this pop icon, well, he says one place he always takes visitors is to his favorite Mexican food eatery: El Mirasol.
"It’s a great Mexican restaurant," he said. "They actually put my name on one of [the menu items]. I order the same thing every time I go there: a cheese enchilada, a chicken enchilada and rice and beans, and that’s me..."
"...And a margarita."
Cheers to that, and to a generous man giving back to the community.
The full list of charities benefiting from "A Gift of Love II" includes:
Advancing the Interests of Animals, Angel View Crippled Children's Foundation, Animal Samaritans, Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center, Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS of the Desert), College Of The Desert, Desert AIDS Project, Desert Arc, Desert Best Friends Closet, Desert Cancer Foundation, Desert Samaritans for Seniors, Desert Symphony, FIND Food Bank, Inc., Gilda’s Club Desert Cities, Guide Dogs of the Desert, Manilow Music Project, Mizell Senior Center, Olive Crest, Paws and Hearts, Pegasus Riding Academy for the Handicapped, Shelter From The Storm, Stroke Recovery Center, Temple Isaiah Fund, The LGBT Community Center of the Desert, The Living Desert, Tools for Tomorrow, and United Cerebral Palsy – Inland Empire.