Amsterdam singer to show off pipes


Recorder News Staff

While she never became a member, Marigay Harkins said she wants to demonstrate her gratitude to the Horace Inman Senior Citizen Center.

"I have not joined, because I haven't been old enough," Harkins, 77, said jokingly, "but I have used the center for my recitals and I just thought it would be a good thing."

Harkins, a vocalist from Amsterdam who said she has been singing since she was 2 years old, will perform in "An Afternoon of Music" at the senior center Sunday, Sept. 8.

She and Amanda Grab, a pianist she hired, have been practicing the 20-number set, totaling an hour-and-a-half show, for a year and have had to delay the performance several times because of scheduling issues.

"What if I miss a word?" Harkins asked Lou Dybas, a member of the senior center, during a dress rehearsal Sunday night. "I'll just say I had a brain fart. Right? A brain fart."

"That won't happen," Dybas said. "You're gonna knock them dead."

Harkins, after receiving a college scholarship when she lived in Idaho, studied music in New York City and graduated in 1957.

Though she couldn't afford to continue on to the Metropolitan Opera, she got to sing with "wonderful artists" like Frank Sinatra, whom she was a back-up singer for in a recording. She also snatched a couple of television spots in the 60s.

"I think there are always some areas of weakness that you worry about," Harkins said after the multilingual rehearsal.

The show will include three songs in Italian, three songs in French, three songs in German and five songs in English, each set with a brief intermission for a costume change.

The song choices, which amount to a lively mix that transitions from soft verses to loud falsettos, include "Tu Lo Rai" in Italian and "Ride on King Jesus" in English.

All but the last two are "classical art" songs, Harkins said, with the last two, "Aint it a Pretty Night" and "The Trees on the Mountain," operatic numbers from "Susannah."

Harkins said she thinks the city of Amsterdam could use a burst of musical culture.

"They haven't had something like this in the city for a long time," Harkins said. "I think, some of my friends heard about it and they said, 'Oh, please. We need something like that around here."

Dybas said he hopes he can continue to have classical performers visit the center.

"I think a single guitar player would radiate all kinds of sound," Harkins said. "I do know that people would like to go to some concerts again. I would, too."

Regardless of what her life could have amounted to, Harkins said she's honored to perform for the senior center and glad to have stayed in smaller cities.

"I am glad I didn't continue on," Harkins said. "I could have become a Hollywood mess. I would never want to be involved with the theater at this day and age. No."

Sunday's performance will start at 3 p.m. at the center, 53 Guy Park Avenue. A minimum donation of $5 required. Light refreshments will be served.