When members of the Las Vegas entertainment community seek inspiration, they instinctively turn to Keith Thompson.
And Thompson rises to the occasion, every time. Even if it means bringing together dozens of singers and musicians for a single message of hope.
The co-founder and emcee of The Composers Showcase of Las Vegas has written and produced “Needing Each Other.” The song and video were created to boost the spirits of Vegas entertainers, and also support the just-established TCS Entertainment Community Relief Fund (to donate go to thecomposersshowcase.com and click on Donations-Relief Fund). The full, 16-minute version of the song is on YouTube.
Thompson and writing partner and piano great Phil Fortenberry debuted the song during their appearance on the Smith Center’s Facebook Live series. The resulting song and video clip, on Thompson’s YouTube page and being shared across social media, is stunning. The piece showcases more than 50 singers, a Las Vegas Philharmonic string section and the brass section from Santa Fe and the Fat City Horns.
Following is a full list of participants, led by the vocalist lineup. The contributors to the song and video belong in Boldface Hall of Fame, in alphabetical order:
Vinny “Vin A.” Adinolfi, Vinny Adinolfi, Jay Alger, Jassen Allen, Susan Anton, Tony Arias, Brent Barrett, Dennis Blair, Bernie Blanks, Karalyn Clark, Travis Cloer, Douglas Crawford, Jimmy Denning, Nicole Pryor Dernersesian, Vita Corimbi Drew, Daniel Emmet, Bruce Ewing, Kaylie Foster, Elisa Furr, Gret Menzies Gonzalez, Cherity Harchis, Todd Hart, Bucky Heard, Dr. Richard Hodges, Clint Holmes, Kelly Clinton Holmes, Liz Hyde, Chadwick Johnson, Michelle Johnson, Colte Julian, Randal Keith, Amanda King, Liza Likins, Dana Martin, Krissy Johnson Millstein, Christine Hudman Pardy, Effie Passero, Kevan Patriquin, Ron Remke, Dai Richards, Niki Scalera, Dan Schumann, Giada Valenti, Janien Valentine, Kelly Vohnn, Maren Wade, Jonathan Williams, Valerie Witherspoon, Jaquelyn Holland-Wright and Eric Jordan Young.
Fortenberry on piano; John Miceli on drums; Danny Miranda on bass; Lauren Cordell, Rebecca Sabine, Rob Taylor and Sage West on violin; De Ann Letourneau and Yunior Lopez on viola; Lindsey Springer, Moonlight Tran and David Warner on cello; Gary Cordell, Dan Falcone, Gil Kaupp and Wes Marshall on trumpet; Andrew Boostrom and Nathan Tanouye on trombone; Eric Tewalt on saxophone; and Beth Lano on French horn.
Several Vegas figures and many celebrities cut spoken video messages, among them Anton, Australian Bee Gees, Rick Barry, Dennis Bono, Lorraine Hunt Bono, Artie Butler, Carrot Top, Clint and Kelly Clinton Holmes, Frederick da Silva, Joyce DeWitt, Roy Firestone, Mick Fleetwood, Ronnie Foster, Mat Franco, Spencer Haywood, Thomas John, Frank Marino, Deana Martin, Myron Martin, Bill Medley, Stevie Nicks, Paige O’Hara, Tony Orlando, Chazz Palminteri, Marianne Phoenix, Irwin Raymer and Thunder From Down Under and yours truly.
Thompson wrote the song, taking the lead from Fortenberry, who had been asked to create a tune of support for artists in China. Fortenberry twice has toured the country, and both artists have worked as contracted songwriters for various projects in the country. Thompson created a version of “Needing Each Other,” and held the song for Las Vegas, feeling it would work as an international message in our city.
Thompson then went to work contacting his scores of friends in the Las Vegas entertainment community.
“I’m hearing the same thing from every entertainer, ‘Every gig for the next year has been pulled out from under me. What am I supposed to do?’ ” Thompson said Tuesday night. “That’s what I’m saying, too, and we do this.”
Thompson spent 10-hour days over two weeks stitching the video and audio segments. The project was a team effort. Glist Entertainment founders Alan and Kathi Glist, who staged the hit shows “Menopause The Musical” and Bronx Wanderers at Harrah’s, produced a 16-minute video. Jeff Lester (Anton’s husband) and Jesseca Zwerg of Big Picture Studios enacted the video production and editing. Audio production was provided by Jeff “Bonzai” Caruso of Green Lion Recording Studios Las Vegas.
As you might expect, the resulting videos — a four-minute version of the song, and an extended 16-minute version with messages and cut-away news clips of COVID-19 coverage — are astonishing. Thompson has seen them more than anyone, and is still moved.
“I went through the editing, and I kept stopping on the expressions of passion on the faces of all the singers,” Thompson says. “It’s so beautiful to see that.” It is. It is music to our ears, our eyes and our hearts.
John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His PodKats podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at email@example.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.