With a career spanning nearly five decades, Steve Tyrell has dazzled audiences, sung for presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton and performed for royalty at Buckingham Palace.
Now the Grammy Award-winning producer and vocalist is heading to Segerstrom Center for the Arts for a three-day engagement, April 27 to 29, to perform “A New Standard.”
It’s an evening that reinvents classics from the Great American Songbook, including tunes by Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil, Burt Bacharach and Hal David.
“Boy, we will have a great night of songs,” Tyrell, 72, said with a laugh during a phone interview. “I have had tremendous respect for the great songs and how they live on forever.”
It’s a respect that started when Tyrell grew up in Palo Pinto County, Texas. His Italian father ran a grocery store and always played Frank Sinatra, jazz and R&B on the radio. Tyrell gravitated toward the work of Count Basie, Louis Jordan and Billie Holiday.
At 18, he moved to New York City, wanting to work in the Brill Building, which was made famous for housing music industry offices and studios. Carole King, Neil Diamond and Marvin Hamlisch recorded there.
Tyrell landed at Scepter Records and, a year later, began producing with Bacharach and David. He worked with Dionne Warwick on hits like “Look of Love” and “Alfie.”
But it was his vocal on “The Way You Look Tonight,” in the 1991 film “Father of the Bride,” starring Steve Martin and Diane Keaton, that raised Tyrell’s profile as a performer and invigorated his recording career.
His interpretations of “Crush On You,” “The Sunny Side of the Street” and other standards became hits, triggering modern-day audiences to play his tunes at special occasions and weddings, including Chelsea Clinton’s.
Nine of his 10 “American Standard” albums have reached the top five on Billboard’s Jazz charts.
Aside from cultivating Grammy Award-winning collaborations with Rod Stewart, Diana Ross and Linda Ronstadt, Tyrell also has worked on film music with Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks and Nancy Meyers.
After the passing of cabaret singer and pianist Bobby Short in 2005, Tyrell was asked to take over Short’s residency at Upper East Side lounge, Cafe Carlyle and ring in the holidays each December.
He also is a radio host on station KJAZZ 88.1, where “The Steve Tyrell Show” can be heard from 5 to 8 p.m. weeknights.
Since listening to the Chairman of the Board as a kid on a prairie in rural Texas, Tyrell said the early musical influence came full circle in his career when the Sinatra family chose him and producer Quincy Jones to be the featured performers with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra at the season’s opening concert when Sinatra was inducted into the Bowl.
“The beauty in these songs is they give you an opportunity to express yourself creatively,” Tyrell said. “These songs have been my whole life, and it’s my salute to them in the show.”
If You Go
What: Steve Tyrell: A New Standard
When: 7:30 p.m. April 27 to 29
Where: Segerstrom Center for the Arts, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa
Cost: Tickets start at $79
Information: (714) 556-2787 or visit scfta.org.