Who else was born in a tiny midwestern farm town and at seven years of age had her first job playing piano with the Horace Heidt band? Is there any other musician who has played harp with Liberace; piano with Billie Holiday and Mel Torme; sang with the bands of Harry James, Ray Anthony, Freddie Martin; owned the most successful clothing store in Hollywood for 17 years; ran a highly successful restaurant on New York's East side; and lived in Rome for three years appearing in a successful TV show Tempo di Jazz? How many other performers were invited to the White House to perform with Tony Bennett; soloed with Barbra Streisand in Central Park and the Hollywood Bowl and recently performed with Bjork on her MTV Special in London, George Michael at London's Royal Albert Hall and RFK Stadium, and country western star Mandy Barnett? We're talking about Corky Hale, considered to be the best jazz harpist in the world today.
Corky will open in March at Davenport's in Chicago, coming off of sold-out engagements at the Algonquin in New York and the Cinegrill in Hollywood.
"More than a triple threat," said the L.A. Times' Don Heckman, and Philip Ellwood of the San Francisco Examiner has called her performance "one of cyclonic proportions."
Her new Christmas CD "Have Yourself a Jazzy Little Christmas" has been released on the LML label, and she is receiving much acclaim for her vocals on her current CD "Corky" on the GNP Crescendo label.
This past summer, Corky produced and performed in the new series for the City of Beverly Hills called "Plaza Sweets" at the Beverly Hills Civic Center. The sellout production "Corky Hale and Friends: From Tin Pan Alley to Beverly Hills" drew 900 calls for reservations to the venue which only seats 500.
Besides recording and performing, Corky is the associate producer of the hit show "Fully Committed" at the Coronet Theatre in Hollywood. She also produced two other hits-1999's "Lullaby Of Broadway" at the Tiffany, one of the L.A. Times "10 Best Shows", and "Give 'em Hell Harry," starring Jason Alexander. "Lullaby" was such a hit that she also produced a concert version later in the year starring Sally Kellerman.
In addition to her diverse accomplishments, Corky jokingly considers herself the ultimate cook-housewife. She has been happily married for 30 years to songwriter Mike Stoller of the team Leiber & Stoller, whose show "Smokey Joe's Caf?" broke the record on Broadway in January as the longest running musical revue in Broadway history.
Corky is extremely proud of the various charities and political groups she works with. Closest to her heart is Angel Harvest. Four years ago, Corky brought the president, Helen Palit to Los Angeles to introduce this charity here. No other organization does what they do. Angel Harvest picks up overages of food at top restaurants and major events such as the Academy Awards and movie premieres, which otherwise would have been discarded, and delivers them to various shelters for battered women and children, indigent seniors, veterans in rehab and the working poor. She shares this commitment to them with her husband, and in 1995 they were named the organization's first "Angels."
She has always been interested in politics and was one of the first white students to join the NAACP while a freshman at the U of Wisconsin. She speaks Italian, French and Spanish, having lived and worked in many cities throughout the world. She now serves on the national advisory board of the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) and the national board of the Women's Reproductive Rights Assistance Program (WRRAP). Corky is a major supporter of Planned Parenthood, and is proud of her and her husband's support of the Southern Poverty Law Center