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Claire Levy

(b Haskovo, 29 June 1896; d Sofia, 31 July 1978). Bulgarian singer, internationally famous as a schlager performer, nicknamed the ‘Knight of the Upper F’. As a child he was a solo singer in the church choir in the town of Stara Zagora. Later on he went to the military school in Sofia and in 1920 took professional vocal lessons. In 1923 Leshnikoff went to Berlin, where he received a scholarship at the Sternischen Konservatorium. In 1927 he was appointed at the Grosses Schauspielhaus – a review theatre – and in 1928 joined Comedian Harmonists, a newly formed male vocal sextet, to perform the first tenor part. Becoming one of the most popular groups in Europe before World War II, Comedian Harmonists developed a style, based on aspects of German schlager, bel canto opera singing, pleasing tunes influenced by traditional lyrical songs, and Afro-American-derived patterns associated with the blues, gospel, and close harmony vocal techniques. Their records were released by labels including Odeon, Electrola, Columbia, and His Master’s Voice. In ...

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Jon Pareles and Jennifer Matthews

[Randall Stuart]

(b Los Angeles, CA, 28 Nov 1943). Popular singer, songwriter, and pianist. He was born into a musical family: three of his uncles, Alfred, Lionel, and Emil, composed and conducted film scores in Hollywood (see Alfred Newman and Lionel Newman). His family lived in various Southern cities, then, when Newman was seven, they settled in Los Angeles where he began to take piano lessons. He had begun writing songs by the age of 15 and while still in high school he was hired by Metric Music in California as a staff songwriter for a salary of $50 a week. Newman attended UCLA, where he studied music composition but left before completing his degree.

While at Metric, Newman wrote songs that were performed by many artists including the Fleetwoods, Gene McDaniels, and the O’Jays. One of his first songs to be widely recognized is “I think it's going to rain today,” recorded by Judy Collins in ...

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Karel Steinmetz

[Plekancová-Vondráčková, Lucie]

(b Prague, 8 March 1980). Czech pop singer and actress. Her family was one of musicians (her father, Jiří Vondráček, is an actor and singer, her mother, Hana Sorrosová-Vondráčková, writes lyrics, and her aunt, Helena Vondráčková, is also a singer). Lucie was trained in music and drama at the Prague Conservatory and later obtained the doctorate in the Arts Faculty at Prague University (2006). From early childhood she appeared in films and TV serials for children; in 1992 she became a presenter of children’s programmes on TV, and in 1993 she issued her first record album. There have been more than 10 of these, and all have been enthusiastically received by her public in sales; she regularly features as one of the most popular Czech singers. As an actress, she often plays major roles in Czech films, stage plays, and musicals.