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Michael McDonald

Saturday

Apr 5, 2014 – 8:00 PM

2024 E 29th Street
Tacoma, WA 98421 Map

  • Michael McDonald

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Two notes. That’s all it takes to recognize the voice of Michael McDonald. Distinctive and soulful, it is one of the most yearningly emotive instruments of our times. To this add formidable songwriting and keyboard skills, and you have an artist who has been a singular musical presence for four decades. From ‘70s-era Doobie Brothers classics such as “What A Fool Believes” and solo hits like “I Keep Forgettin’” through two highly-acclaimed Motown covers albums and recent genre-busting guest spots with alternative buzz bands Grizzly Bear and Holy Ghost, the five-time Grammy-winning McDonald is that rare thing in contemporary pop – an artist whose work is both timeless and ever-evolving.
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Michael McDonald: With his husky, soulful baritone, Michael McDonald became one of the most distinctive and popular vocalists to emerge from the laid-back California pop/rock scene of the late '70s. McDonald found the middle ground between blue-eyed soul and smooth soft rock, a sound that made him a star. He initially essayed his signature style with the Doobie Brothers, ushering in the group's most popular period with hits like "What a Fool Believes" (which won three Grammys), "Minute By Minute" and "Taking It to the Streets." McDonald disbanded the group in 1982 to pursue a solo career, which was initially quite successful, but by the end of the decade his popularity had faded, since he was reluctant to work regularly and hesitant to update his sound to suit shifting popular tastes.

After singing backup on several Steely Dan albums in the mid-'70s, McDonald joined the Doobie Brothers in 1977. He was largely responsible for moving the group away from boogie rock and toward polished, jazzy blue-eyed soul. Prior to the Doobies' farewell tour in 1982, he sang harmony on several hit singles, including tracks by Donna Summer, Toto, Kenny Loggins, and Christopher Cross. As it turned out, his solo work was a cross between the Doobie Brothers' white-bread soul and Cross' adult contemporary ballads.

McDonald released his solo debut, If That's What It Takes, in 1982. The record climbed to number six on the strength of the No. 4 single "I Keep Forgettin' (Every Time You're Near)," which also crossed over into the R&B Top 10. In 1983, he had another Top 20 pop hit (and a Top 10 R&B hit) with his duet with James Ingram, "Yah Mo B There," which won a Grammy. McDonald didn't deliver his second solo album, No Lookin' Back, until 1985. The record wasn't as successful as its predecessor, producing only one moderate hit in its title track. He bounced back the following year, when his duet with Patti LaBelle, "On My Own," shot to No. 1 and "Sweet Freedom," his theme for the Billy Crystal/Gregory Hines comedy Running Scared, climbed into the Top 10.

Instead of capitalizing on his revitalized success, McDonald didn't release another album until 1990. The resulting Take It to Heart was a bomb, peaking at No. 110. Two years later, his fortunes were revived somewhat when he sang on Aretha Franklin's minor hit "Ever Changing Times" and toured with Donald Fagen's New York Rock and Soul Revue. The following year, he released Blink of an Eye, which was ignored. In 1994, "I Keep Forgettin' (Every Time You're Near)" was sampled heavily in Warren G's smash hit "Regulate." By 1996, McDonald had returned to the Doobie Brothers, touring the oldies circuit with the reunited group. The following year, McDonald released Blue Obsession, his first album of new material in three years, and In the Spirit: A Christmas Album in 2001.

Thanks to a telephone advertisement featuring his version of "I Heard It Through the Grapevine," McDonald's album Motown renewed his popularity. He followed it with Motown Two in 2004.

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