The Manhattan Transfer -- 40 years and still singing

Wed Oct 7, 2009 1:16pm EDT
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By Steve James

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Forty years ago, Tim Hauser put together a sophisticated little singing group he hoped would make a few hits.

The Manhattan Transfer went on to top music charts in Europe, dominate the U.S. jazz vocal scene for four decades, win Grammys in pop and jazz categories and even equal Michael Jackson's "Thriller" album for Grammy nominations.

Hauser is still stunned by the success he and fellow singers, Alan Paul, Janis Siegel and Cheryl Bentyne have achieved around the world.

"I wanted to make a couple of hit records and work in the United States," Hauser told Reuters in a recent interview.

Asked whether he imagined his group would still be making music 40 years later, he said: "No, I never thought that way.

"When you're young, you're thinking about what's right in front of you -- sex and drugs and rock 'n roll! You don't think of career and family."

But that is how Bentyne describes the group, as family. "My daughter and Janis' son came on tour with us as babies," she recalled. "And right now she is in L.A. with Tim's family."

Like many families, each member of Manhattan Transfer has a voice -- and a vote -- in what songs they will sing and record, where they will tour, or who will handle lyrics or arrangements for each song. But like many musical acts, they often have differences of opinion.   Continued...

<p>The Manhattan Transfer perform during the three-day Java Jazz Festival in Jakarta March 8, 2008. REUTERS/Crack Palinggi</p>