MAC Award-winning cabaret artist Jeff Harnar will release a new album, I Know Things Now: My Life in Sondheim's Words, via PS Classics June 17. The album will see Harnar use more than 25 songs from the late Broadway composer-lyricist to tell his life story as a proudly gay New Yorker.
The Sondheim tunes—which include "Being Alive," "Losing My Mind," and "Live Alone and Like It"—have been given new jazz arrangements by jazz pianist Jon Weber, who serves as the album's arranger, orchestrator, and conductor, leading a 20-piece orchestra. According to press notes, Sondheim himself endorsed and encouraged the new take on his work after experiencing the album in a live concert.
“The words and music are Sondheim’s, but the story is mine,” says Harnar in a statement. “This is virtually the only line in my own words when I perform the show. The evening is unique in that it is sung-through, with almost every word from my mouth a Sondheim lyric. And yet, the piece could not be more personal. In the words of Sondheim, ‘What more do I need?’ This is a unique experience for me, as it is my first solo show sung as an openly gay man, honestly sharing my story and my heart—with the correct pronouns. For the first time the songs I’ve chosen, many originally introduced by women, are clearly being sung to and about the men in my life.”
Harnar will celebrate the album's release with a series of concerts at The Laurie Beechman Theatre in New York's West Bank Cafe, set for June 15, 22, and 29 at 7 PM. Weber will be on hand at the piano for the concert, leading an ensemble that will also include Steve Doyle on bass and Ray Marchica on Drums. Following the Beechman engagement, Harnar will bring the concert to The Purple Room in Palm Springs, California June 17; and Crooner's Supper Club in Minneapolis, Minnesota June 26. Additional dates are to be announced.
The concert edition of I Know Things Now is directed by Broadway legend Sondra Lee, an original cast member of Broadway's Peter Pan and Hello, Dolly!.
Harnar has previously appeared in Centennial Galas for Cole Porter and Noël Coward at Carnegie Hall, and in the PBS-televised concerts The 1959 Broadway Songbook, American Songbook: Stephen Sondheim (co-starring KT Sullivan), and Michael Feinstein's Live at NJPAC. I Know Things Now will become Harnar's fifth solo album and second with PS Classics, following 2005's Dancing in the Dark.