For many of us, the name Toni Tennille conjures up a series of less-than-impressive memories:
A guy with a goofy-looking captain’s hat.
“The Captain and Tennille Show,” canceled by ABC after six months.
A succession of Neil Sedaka covers.
“Muskrat Love,” one of the sappiest songs ever to make the Top 10.
However, these snapshots show only one part of Toni Tennille’s career, the part that launched her into stardom in the 1970s. Since then she has built a career on a more dignified foundation, as a singer of finely crafted pop and Big Band standards, often accompanied by symphony orchestras.
Those who remember the schlock of “You Never Done It Like That” might be surprised at this wholly successful transformation, but they shouldn’t. From the beginning, it was clear that Tennille had an exceptional voice, perfect for torch songs, smoky ballads and American jazz standards.
And in the ‘80s and ‘90s, she has done a fine job of making the most of her talent. She recorded two albums of standards in the ‘80s, “More Than You Know” and “All of Me.” She followed those with an album of ‘30s and ‘40s standards called “Never Let Me Go,” and her most recent album is titled “Things Are Swingin’,” a Big Band collection.
In 1992, she starred in the Los Angeles musical “Stardust,” thus returning to her stage roots.
In fact, it was on stage that she first met Daryl Dragon (son of conductor Carmen Dragon) in 1971. Tennille was appearing in a musical called “Mother Earth,” which she co-wrote. Dragon was playing keyboards in the house band, and the two soon paired up, both professionally and personally.
They began to tour with the Beach Boys in 1972, with Tennille providing backup harmonies and Dragon on keyboards. Because of Dragon’s captain’s hat, Mike Love started calling him “Captain Keyboard,” and the name “Captain” soon stuck.
Tennille and Dragon went off on their own and soon had a smash hit with “Love Will Keep Us Together.”
They were married in 1974 and renewed their marriage vows on their 20th anniversary. They also continue to collaborate musically - he’s a fine producer and arranger - and they continue to make appearances as the Captain and Tennille.
However, in 1984, Tennille began to do solo symphony pops concerts, and since then she has become one of the top guest artists in the United States and Canada.
In her appearance with the Spokane Symphony, she will perform Big Band classics and jazz standards from composers including Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer.
The first half of the program will feature music director Fabio Mechetti conducting the symphony in a Cole Porter medley arranged by Gregory Stone and a Stan Kenton medley arranged by Calvin Custer.
This is the first SuperPops concert of the season, and the sponsor is Delta Airlines.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color Photo
MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: The Spokane Symphony SuperPops, with guest artist Toni Tennille, will perform at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Spokane Opera House. Tickets are $14 to $29, available from the symphony box office (624-1200), at G&B; Select-a-Seat outlets or call (800) 325-SEAT.
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