Music of Sinatra fascinates Westerville singer Smith

The music of Frank Sinatra has long captured the ears — and lungs — of Brian Michael Smith. “I learned to sing from Frank by listening to his records,” said the 55-year-old, who, in his younger years, performed Great American Songbook standards in New York — including gigs at the legendary Rainbow Room where Ol’ Blue Eyes himself held court decades before.

Now based in Westerville after leaving the Big Apple, the East Side native has continued to offer concerts saluting Sinatra’s legacy. “His phrasing was impeccable,” said Smith, a self-taught singer. Next on the agenda: A Saturday show in La Scala that will also feature dancing and a four-course dinner (reservations are recommended; a casual dress code demands neither tuxedos nor fedoras). Smith recently spread the news about his event.

Q: What does the show entail?
A: Basically, we try to bring Sinatra’s music to the forefront. I have an eight-piece band. The music charts we have are pretty much the same arrangements he sang. I’m not an impersonator. I sing in my own style, but it’s known to be close. People seem to be pretty happy with it.

Q: How long have you been a Sinatra fan?
A: My whole life. I’ve been doing this for 35 years. My father used to work at WBNS radio. He used to bring home promotional albums. One of the albums was Forever Frank. That was it for me. My brothers were into rock ’n’ roll, folk music. I listened to all the big band I could find.

Q: What are your favorite Sinatra songs to perform?
A: That’s a tough one. My favorites, I guess, would be Come Fly With Me, Where or When, Fly Me to the Moon. The library is so vast. It gets to the point where we jokingly ask the audience: “What do you want to hear? My Way or New York, New York?” We do whatever one gets the louder applause.

Q: How are your covers received?
A: Everybody loves his music; I think it’s very important today. You see people just dancing. The romance is back.

Published in The Columbus Dispatch, by Kevin Joy.