Melody Flyte Sings Vintage

Singing for Victory: the songs of WW2

This 60-minute performance features a sequence of songs broadcast on the American Forces Radio Service programme ‘Command Performance’ between 1942-1945 in the run-up to VE day, followed by a sequence of songs made famous by Judy Garland during wartime in her films including The Wizard of Oz and Meet Me in St Louis. We finish with a singalong to British wartime classics. (Songs include: Over the Rainbow; They Can't Take That Away From Me; How About You; Chattanooga Choo Choo; There'll Be Bluebirds over the White Cliffs of Dover; We'll Meet Again)  Performed with jazz trio tracks,​ in 1940s costume with vintage mic, this is wartime entertainment as experienced by Allied troops abroad and a British audience at home. 

 

To enquire about a performance, please click here

Fly Me To The Moon

This 60-minute performance takes a flight of fancy through nearly 30 years of fabulous jazz standards, from the 'S Wonderful of 1927, through 1937's Foggy Day and 1949's Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend, to 1954's Fly Me To The Moon. It is performed with jazz trio tracks,​ in 1950s costume with vintage mic.

 

To enquire about a performance, please click here

Talks 

I also give talks - well, part talks, part performances - on British and American performers during WW2. For details, please see www.diannemannering.co.uk/melody-flyte/

A little more about... Command Performance (American Forces Radio Service)


From 1942 to 1949, a weekly half-hour long radio show (with some longer specials) called Command Performance was transmitted to American troops serving overseas. With the exception of the Christmas Eve performance in 1942, it was not available in the US itself. Many episodes were also broadcast on the BBC Forces Radio, which was available to UK civilians at home as well as service personnel abroad.


Command Performances featured a dazzling array of stars from musical theatre, Classical music, comedy, theatre and film, including Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, Yehudi Menuhin, Lena Horne, Groucho Marx, Danny Kaye, James Cagney, Betty Grable and Jack Benny, to name but a few. In addition to the AFRS Orchestra conducted by Major Meredith Willson, the well-known guest orchestras (large swing bands) included those of Count Basie, Benny Goodman and Jimmy Dorsey.


The variety performances encompassed popular and traditional song, instrumental music including classical, jazz and swing, stand-up comedy, sketches and even the occasional excerpt of sports commentary. A particularly celebrated recording was that of an hour-long operetta spoof of ‘Dick Tracey’, starring Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra, Dinah Shore, Jimmy Durante and The Andrews Sisters.


The performances were expressly for US forces fighting overseas, and this was stated in the weekly introduction:

‘Command Performance USA. The greatest entertainers in America as requested by you, the fighting men (later, service men and women) of the United States Armed Forces throughout the world. Presented this week and every week till it’s over – over there.’


One of the things which must have made the Americans far from home so appreciative of the programme was the friendly, familiar tone, direct address, and the answering of requests for particular performers and songs. Letters from listeners, such as ‘Private JLV, somewhere in north Africa’ or ‘a couple of ablebodied seamen by way of the Virgin Isles’, introduced almost every new section.


At the end of each one there is a plea for the men to keep sending in their requests, and some encouragement, such as ‘give ‘em hell’ or ‘so that’s the works from here, and you give ‘em the works over there’.


It is estimated that, given the talent involved in the Command Performances, a single episode could have cost $50-100,000 to make – but everyone involved, including performers and production staff, donated their time and efforts in the spirit of solidarity – as one episode ended: ‘the stars over here will be with you through the last act of that bigger show of yours, over there; and brother, you’ve got top billing in both.’ 


Further reading: http://www.bingmagazine.co.uk/bingmagazine/afrs.htmhttps://wiki2.org/en/BBC_Forces_Programme