Jeff Dwyer was born on May 14, 1946 in Union City, New Jersey, not far from Hoboken, the birthplace of Frank Sinatra. Jeff’s father Gerald, a worker at the local Ford Motor Company, sang several times on the local radio station. Jeff remembers his father who died when Jeff was 11 as having a pleasant light baritone/tenor voice. Jeff used to sing with his father and at age 8 had his first solo in his grade school singing “White Christmas” as a boy soprano. Jeff was not pleased when his mother, who was in the audience, told him that the woman sitting next to her said Jeff sounded as beautiful as a girl. Jeff continued to solo in grade school as well as high school. Attending Georgetown University, Jeff to earn extra spend money, became the lead singer in a society band organized by H. Kent Baker who went on to become a successful Professor of Business Finance and who continued to play piano at various clubs in Washington, DC Jeff with Kent’s band played at numerous weddings and the Bethesda Naval Club. Jeff attributes Kent as being instrumental in teaching him phrasing and styling a song. At one performance at a dinner party hosted by US Senator Robert Kennedy, Arthur Godfrey, the tv host of the Arthur Godfrey Show offered Jeff a record contract on condition that he drop out of college. Jeff called his mother in New Jersey who told him not to drop out of college but get Mr. Godfrey’s autograph which he did on a paper napkin. Jeff graduated from college and law school, became a successful lawyer, author and adjunct professor and from that day forward never sang again, not even at family functions.
Two years ago, after Jeff told the Arthur Godfrey story to his grown children, his children as a Christmas present purchased 5 hours at a professional recording studio to record a CD. Jeff was totally surprised but fearful that after all these years could he still sing. Karen, his wife, also felt uneasy as to whether the children wanted this as a rembrance of Jeff. Not to let his children down, Jeff practiced and went to the recording studio where he first met Jim Robeson, the professional recording engineer. Jim, after hearing that Jeff had not sung in over 40 years, suggested maybe they could record 3 or 4 songs. Jeff was adamant that they record a full CD of 10 songs as his children spent a quite a bit of money on the recording session. Jim said okay let’s do it, after rolling his eyes. After recording the first song, Jim asked are you sure you have not sung in 40 years? That was really excellent. Jeff finished his first CD with no takes and did such classics as “New York, New York”,” Didn’t We”, “Make Someone Happy” and “Just Once in a Lifetime”. Within 18 months Jeff completed two other CD’s, Songs to Dream By and The Music Never Ends, including the song “I Remember” written by Jeff. He has also completed 7 musical videos posted on YouTube that have received very positive reviews
By not singing for over 40 years, Jeff was able to keep his voice. Some people have said to Jeff, imagine what your voice was like when you were young but Jeff answers that he kept the power and range of his youth but added an extra dimension of richness and complexity to his voice that was not there when he was young.
Jeff also noted that “when you are young, many of these songs you have to pretend the lyrics. At my age, I have lived these songs and can fully relate to a song such as Smile, though your heart is aching or in Karen, my wife of 42 years who has etched in me the song, She Touched Me. How can a youngster sing, It Was A Very Good Year, unless he has lived the life of not only a 17 year old but also that of a 21year old, a 35 year old and then the autumn of one’s life”
Jeff is flattered when he is compared to a Frank Sinatra or Tony Bennet but he is adamant that he does not want to be a Sinatra or Bennet clone. Jeff has recorded 52 songs with such standards as “What’ll I Do” “Dear Heart”, “Embraceable You” but he is not afraid to try something different. His rendering of the old folksong “Shenandoah” is haunting. His interpretation of the semi-operatic “Con Te Partiro” while different than Andre Bocelli becomes a more romantic song in Jeff’s lower register. His version of the classic soul song “Hey Girl” done in a soft style conjures up a candlelight dinner while still keeping the basic soul aspect of the song.
Jeff’s favorite composer is Anthony Newley. Jeff feels as if that composer was writing for his voice. From, “What Kind of Fool Am I” to “Who Can I Turn To”, “Gonna Build a Mountain” Jeff sets a definitive mark in his recording of these songs. Jeff remarked that he sang the song “Feeling Good” now popularized by Michael Buble before Michael was born. Compare Michael and Jeff’s version and you be the judge as to which one is better. Jeff also did a riveting YouTube musical tribute with this song in honor of the “Arab Spring”
Jeff acknowledges that certain beautiful songs are associated with a particular singer such as “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” (Tony Bennet) or “Maybe This Time” (Liza Minnelli) but Jeff is not afraid to try his version. Jeff noted the famous French composer Gibert Becaud felt that no one did a more magnificent version of his song “What Now My Love” (Et Maintenant) than Judy Garland. However in 2005, a young and amazing French singer, Gregory Lemarchal, who sadly passed away with cystic fibrosis in 2007, nailed that song and truly made it his own. In honor of Judy and Greg, Jeff recorded his version of that song on his first CD.
According to Jeff, there is always room for new singers and their take on how a song should be sung. After listening to Jeff sing over 40 years later, Kent Baker remarked ‘it is amazing how excellent voices don’t change after all these years” To make up for all the years of not singing, Jeff has recorded 52 songs and is currently working on a Christmas CD. Perhaps in fact the music never ends!