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Support of PBS music to my ears

March 20, 2011
By KATHRYN SPIRA, For The Leader-Herald

Last week I watched a PBS special highlighting David Foster's illustrious career as songwriter, producer, arranger and "Hitmaker," which was the title of the show.

Foster has worked with some of my favorites, such as Kenny Loggins, who opened the show with Foster on keyboards and the hit "Heart to Heart."

Other singers that appeared with Foster he has worked with in the past were Earth, Wind and Fire, Donna Summer, Seal, Chaka Khan, and Martina McBride. He is given credit for having discovered Celine Dion, Josh Groban, and Michael Bubl.

I've discovered that many of the musicians I adore have been on PBS specials in concert, specifically Billy Joel at Shea Stadium before it was torn down, Carole King and James Taylor who appeared in a PBS documentary about the troubadours of the past 50 years.

There's a club called Troubadour in West Hollywood, which is where a lot of the singer-songwriters of the '60s came through.

According to Steve Martin who spoke in the documentary:

"The Mecca was the Troubadour, even though there was a club called the Mecca." (Betty White and husband Allen Ludden once approached him in the bar: "We think you're funny," she said.) Martin mused on about the proximity of Laurel Canyon, where many singers lived. "We tended to view Laurel Canyon as the forest, but literally, really, it was one block from one of the heaviest trafficked streets in Los Angeles."

When I was out in Hollywood, pursuing my own career, I learned about the various canyons early on. Canyon roads were often a shortcut between the San Fernando Valley and Hollywood, especially if you wanted to avoid the traffic on the freeways.

Some of my other favorite singers who have been featured on PBS concerts include Michael Macdonald and Paul McCartney when he sang in Red Square in 2005.

With all the budget cutting being talked about and possible PBS cutbacks, I would hate to see those concerts and singers lost to me. I don't think there are commercial stations that could take the place of PBS.

I must say I wasn't a PBS viewer until Herman came into my life, but I find the station is much more than news and political views with so many arts and music programs available.

The one main drawback I do see to these programs is that they are usually accompanied by fundraisers. Unfortunately, if budget cutting hits PBS, we'll be seeing a lot more of those fund drives. So my soapbox today is: support your local PBS station if you want to see it continue.

Kathryn Spira, a native of Cleveland who pursued an acting career in New York City and Los Angeles, now pursues freelance writing from Caroga Lake in Fulton County. Previous columns and contact information may be accessed at her website at



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