Johnny Mathis Plots New Concept Album With Clive Davis & Kenneth 'Babyface' Edmonds: Exclusive
Over the decades, Clive Davis has breathed new life into the careers of such superstars as Rod Stewart, Aretha Franklin, Barry Manilow and Dionne Warwick by pairing them with new material or themed concept projects. Next on the Sony Music chief creative officer’s list? Johnny Mathis.
For the last few months, Davis, 83, has been working with Mathis, 80, on a new concept album similar to how Davis collaborated with Stewart on the tremendously successful five-album Great American Songbook series in the 2000s or 2014’s Aretha Franklin Sings the Great Diva Classics from the Queen of Soul.
The idea of working together came after Mathis performed at Davis’ pre-Grammy party in February 2015 and, by almost all accounts, brought the house down and the crowd to its collective feet with his performance of his past hits, including “Chances Are,” “Misty” and “It’s Not for Me to Say.”
“After the hoopla and the press coverage” from Mathis’ party performance, Davis says Sony Music chairman/CEO and Columbia Records chairman Rob Stringer approached Davis about coming up with a concept album for Mathis, who -- other than a brief break to record for Mercury in the mid-'60s -- has been on Columbia for 60 years.
Davis won’t reveal the concept for the album just yet, but added that he and Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds are working with the classic crooner on the project. “We’re about to go back into the studio,” Davis says of the album, which will “definitely be released in the fall.”
Mathis, who has 16 dates remaining this year as part of his 60th anniversary concert schedule, received a Grammy nomination for his last album, 2013’s Sending You a Little Christmas. His last non-holiday album, 2010’s Let It Be Me: Mathis in Nashville, a collection of country songs spanning the 1950s-1990s, also earned a Grammy nod.
Mathis’ 1958 album Johnny’s Greatest Hits spent 490 weeks on the Billboard 200, a tally surpassed only by Pink Floyd’s 1973 album, The Dark Side of the Moon (923 weeks and counting), since the chart began publishing weekly in 1956.