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Saturday, 13-Jan-07 14:32:43 EST

Bistro and MAC Winner Andy Garcia Dies

The passionate and thrilling voice of Andy Garcia has been silenced. On Wednesday of last week, his family announced that the Bistro and MAC Award winner passed away on November 19, 2002 in California. He was 49 years old and had been fighting a winning battle with brain cancer for the last several years. He had also suffered a mild stroke. Ultimately, he died from kidney failure as a result of diabetes that was detected until too late.

Andy won the 1988 Bistro Award as Outstanding Vocalist and the 1988 MAC Award for his cabaret debut. He was nominated the following year again by MAC. A multiple "Critic's Choice" winner in Private Lives Magazine, The NY Native, Night & Day, Nightlife Magazine, Theater World and Cabaret Hotline, Andy will always be remembered for his unique, emotionally charged tenor voice that won him critical and personal acclaim - as well as legions of fans.

He sang with pure honesty and emotion punctuated by dramatic phrasing that often brought audiences to their feet in the middle of his shows. Prior to his official Manhattan cabaret debut in 1988, Andy had won rave reviews and built a huge following performing in Provincetown, Ft. Lauderdale, Chicago, Denver and many hotels and clubs around the country. However, it was his singing in local colorful nightspots like, the Village Gate, Cary's, The 5 Oaks, Kelly's, the East Five Three, Gypsy's, Club Manhattan and Waverly/Waverly that brought him local acclaim. He was also a favorite of night club entrepreneur Ted Hook. Later, he went on to win critics over at cabarets including, Upstairs at Greene Street, Don't Tell Mama, Oh! Johnny, and The Triad. He was one of the highlights of the acclaimed "Miracle on 35th Street" benefit for the Manhattan Center for Living in 1997, hosted by Susan Sarandon with, Tom Andersen, Betty Buckley, Jim Caruso, Tom Coviello, Baby Jane Dexter, Judy Kaye, Liliane Montevecchi, Vivian Reed, Stiller and Meara, Billy Stritch, The Tonics and Liza Minnelli. He brought the house down singing an a Capella version of "Silent Night" in medley with "You'll Never Walk Alone."

Any Andy Garcia concert turned into a love-fest between him and his loyal following of fans. His songs of the heart touched audiences wherever he sang. He was best known for sometimes "schmaltzy" songs that touched a nerve like, "Memory," "What Kind of Fool Am I?", "No Matter What Happens," "Ship in a Bottle," "Music of the Night," "Danny Boy" "The Best Thing You've Ever Done," "The Rose" "Two For the Road," "Nessun Dorma," and his theme song, "The Wind Beneath My Wings." His favorite song was "I'll Be Seeing You" which he often sang with the late Grove Street icon Marie Blake.

His amazing lyric tenor brought him to the attention of Sammy Cahn who requested that Andy audition for him privately for a show he hoped to bring to Broadway. Andy sang, "Be My Love" and Cahn was blown away when he held the final high C for many bars. Unfortunately, the show didn't materialize. Critics like the Late Bob Harrington called him "... the Pavarotti of cabaret." Marty Schaeffer said, "He has no peers." The late Curt Davis (co-founder of MAC and NY Post critic) ran out of adjectives describing Andy and didn't understand why he wasn't a household word. He was twice named "Pick of the Week" by The Post. Last week a private memorial service was held in his native Bricktown, NJ. As always, it was a packed house.

A celebration of his life and music is being planned by John Hoglund (Andy's former manager) and will be announced in the coming weeks. This special celebration will feature an impressive lineup of New York's finest artists and benefit one of Andy's favorite charities. The event will celebrate Andy's life and the songs he sang. Video clips of Andy in performance will be shown. He was a beautiful person on or off stage and he will be sorely missed by many who were touched by his talent - and his heart.

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