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The Manhattan Transfer turns 50: A conversation with founding member Janis Siegel

The Manhattan Transfer
c/o the artist
The Manhattan Transfer (from left to right: Trist Curless Cheryl Bentyne, Alan Paul and Janis Siegel)

The Manhattan Transfer was founded 50 years ago as the result of a fortuitous meeting in a New York City cab. Now the group has just released Fifty, an album that revisits some of their biggest hits with new arrangements, as well as covers timeless favorites from George and Ira Gershwin and Brian Wilson, all recorded with the renowned WDR Radio Orchestra Cologne. The legendary vocal quartet is also in the midst of a long (and final?) cross-continental tour of Europe and the U.S.

As The Manhattan Transfer celebrate 50 years of swinging, adding harmony to all our lives, my recent conversation with founding member Janis Siegel was a freewheeling chat about her musical beginnings at age 12 as a guitar playing singer in the trio The Young Generation, how the Transfer came to life, her own musical journeys and the 50th celebration, all while accepting a shipment of crawfish from New Orleans in preparation for Etouffee to be shared with guests the next night.

In December, as part of the Yamaha Concert Series, Janis will also host an upcoming all-star musical celebration of the life of our own Michael Bourne, a musical gift we'll share with WBGO listeners this Holiday season.

Watch our conversation here:

Janis Siegel with Gary Walker

In jazz radio, great announcers are distinguished by their ability to convey the spontaneity and passion of the music. Gary Walker is such an announcer, and his enthusiasm for this music greets WBGO listeners every morning. This winner of the 1996 Gavin Magazine Jazz Radio Personality of the Year award has hosts the morning show each weekday from 6:00am -12:00pm. And, by his own admission, he's truly having a great time.