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Clint Holmes On His New Show, His Music And More

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Between the Lines Production

There are Las Vegas fixtures – the people, the shows that are instantly identifiable to people as being part of this city.

And then, there's Clint Holmes.

The singer has called Las Vegas home for many years. But he was born in England and moved to a small town outside of Buffalo, New York when he was a child. Both of his parents were musical. His mother was an opera singer and his father aspired to be a jazz singer, but being an interracial couple in the late 40s, early 50s with two children made it difficult to get by let alone pursue their dreams, Holmes said. 

After doing just about everything in the entertainment field, Holmes headlined at Harrah's, and they named the showroom after him.

He was the artist in residence at the Smith Center, where he played every month.

Now, he's got a new show called "Between the Lines" at the Palazzo.

INTERVIEW HIGHLIGHTS:

On becoming a singer:

When people ask me 'when did you decide to become a singer?' I say, 'there was never a decision.' 

On being an interracial child in a small town:

Back in those days, really in a small town, being the son of a black father and a white mother made you immediately ostracized because I was the only one like me.

Support comes from

So singing became a way to be recognized. I way to have an identity and a way to get applause. 

On the moment he knew he could make a career out of singing:

I can honestly say that there was never anything else in my mind from 5 years old, 6 years old, 10 years old, 12 years old. It was always watching people on television and dreaming of doing that. 

When I was old enough having a little band and then in high school I had a pretty good sized band. Then I went into the Army and sang in the U.S. Army chorus in Washington, D.C.

My life just kept evolving to be a singer.

On his song "Playground in my Mind":

I had really just started my career. I had gotten out of the Army started singing locally in Washington, D.C. I got a job singing in the Bahamas. We didn't have a dressing room and we did two or three shows a night. So after one of the shows one night, I go into the men's room to wash my face and wait for the elevator to go up to my room and a guy walks up and he says, 'you sound a little bit like Johnny Mathis and I produce Johnny Mathis. I wrote this song and that song for Johnny Mathis and I have a song for you'

I was skeptical but I said okay. When I finished that job, I went to New York and he played me that song and he went 'My name is Michael. I got it a nickel...' I didn't like it. I thought it was way too cutesy. I wanted to sing Marvin Gay or Robert Flack. That was my self image.

But it was an opportunity. So, I made the record. I recorded it in 1972. It came out and kind of did nothing. Then someone programmed it as a Christmas record that year.

So, it went from nothing in the middle of '72 to a Christmas record at the end of '72 to a big hit by the middle of '73.

I was very lucky. It was just a novelty song that just found it's place.

 

On being the announcer for Joan Rivers' show:

I loved her! We toured together. I was her opening act for many years. When she got her show on Fox, she came to Atlantic City and I was living on the East Coast and I went to see her and we were talking. She was telling me about the band and she said, 'the only thing I haven't signed yet is an announcer.' And my wife poked me in the ribs and said 'Clint should be your announcer.' So, she said, 'say Joan Rivers.' So, I said, 'Joan Rivers!' She said, 'no bigger! Bigger!' And so I said, "Ladies and Gentlemen JOAN RIVERS!' And she flew me to L.A. and I sat in a board room with executives at Fox with sweat dripping from every orifice in my body, saying 'Joan Rivers!' over and over again until I got it right and then they hired me.

On having his own talk show:

Boy did I love that. I was on Joan's show in 1987 as her sidekick, if you will. "Entertainment Tonight" saw me and invited me to be a correspondent. So for a year I was both Joan's announcer and I did music stories all over the country for "Entertainment Tonight." 

During that period of time, WOR-TV in New York, which is actually in New Jersey, decided they wanted to do a primetime talk show. An 8 o'clock Johnny Carson show. They saw me on Joan and on "Entertainment Tonight" and they flew me to New York and they gave me money to do a pilot... our pilot got the show. I called on Joan, other friends Kathie Lee Gifford to do my pilot. And I got the show. That was in 1991. 

We did it for year. We won the Emmy award for the best variety show in New York. And then the station was sold and they canceled all original programming.

On how working with Bill Cosby:

So my history with Bill is one of great generosity and great kindness. Obviously, no excuse for what seems to have been another complete part of his life that I didn't know about and was never part of, never saw, was never even intimated to me. 

When people talk about him to me - obviously there is no justification for what he seems to have done - but like all of us there is more than one side to who we are. I got lucky and saw the good side.

On working at Harrah's:

Six and half years is a wonderful long run and I had other things I wanted to do. One of them being theater. One of them being Broadway. I had written a piece.

Harrah's is a place where they thrive on repeat business. So those clients had seen me for seven years. So I think it was time for a change for both of us. But it was an incredible run. And the fact that they named a showroom after me was their way of saying 'We're committed to this guy as the face of our entertainment for the next few years.'

On working at Cabaret Jazz at the Smith Center:

We had to do a different show every month, which is a real challenge for everybody. At the time, Jeff Neiman was my musical director and Jeff and I would sit and we would write new shows and we would put it together with our band.

And what it gave me was the license to try anything. If we wanted to do a jazz show one month, we did a jazz show. If we wanted to do a tribute to James Taylor, we did that. I learned a lot about myself as an artist and I learned a lot material and it was really exciting.

On the new show:

It's called "Between the Lines." And Ken Henderson, the producer, and the Palazzo and I talked about the fact that... to me music is created and heard and felt between the lines. It's not the notes, the words - of course they exist - but we personalize them as an artist or as a listener. 

Why is it a song effects us every time we hear it? It makes us happy. It makes us sad. It makes us remember. Moves us. That's what's between the lines. 

On the new album:

The album is a two year project that was recorded mostly in Los Angeles at Capitol Records, which is high grass. That's where Sinatra recorded, where McCartney recorded, where Bob Dylan recorded, where Nat King Cole recorded. There I was in that studio getting the chance to work with legendary musicians. 

Guests

Clint Holmes, performer

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