Rising jazzy, pop singer Tony DeSare boasts his share of younger fans and followers.
But, in his heart of hearts, his ideal audience is wider than his matinee-idol smile.
“I want both the grandma and the grandson to come to my shows and have an equally good time,” said DeSare, speaking by phone from his home in Westchester County, New York. “My goal is never to limit my audience.
“I might do a more-modern song that the grandmother doesn’t know. But I still want to present it and package it in a way that she will listen.”
Story continues below gallery
DeSare, 41, will perform a concert he has titled “I Love a Piano” with the Columbus Indiana Philharmonic at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 16 at the Columbus East High School auditorium. The performance will include hits from well-known pop-rock piano masters such as Elton John (“Philadelphia Freedom”), Jerry Lee Lewis (“Great Balls of Fire”) and Billy Joel (“She’s Always a Woman”).
In DeSare’s recording, he presents the Joel tune with a slower tempo and richer vocals backed by a soothing cello and violin.
Plus, in a world that he acknowledged is torn even by musical divides and division — think of narrowly focused Pandora and Spotify personal streaming apps — he will present John Lennon’s kumbaya-styled smash “Imagine.” Those who caught DeSare’s stripped-down-but-popular Cabaret at The Commons act in March 2015 will find this presentation altogether different, the artist said.
“In the orchestra concerts I’m doing, you’re working with so many more colors,” DeSare said, calling such dates as his favorites. “And then there’s the musicality of all those people on stage with you, and that’s just amazing.”
Amazing doesn’t go far enough for Philharmonic Music Director David Bowden to describe his introduction to DeSare at the 2015 cabaret show.
“He was stunning,” Bowden said, adding that the singer’s self-deprecating humor only added to the overall package. “It was an astonishing performance.”
So much so that Bowden did something rare even for his enthusiasm for many artists: He asked DeSare immediately afterward at a gathering if he would play with the orchestra in the future. And clearly, other orchestral conductors have had the same idea.
DeSare mentioned that his schedule is considerably busier since his last local appearance. Since then, he also has scored two films, one for the Hallmark Channel and one for Lifetime, and loved the experience. It afforded the normal road warrior the convenience of working from his recently enhanced 1,000-square-foot home studio so he could be close to his wife, Daisy, and nearly 4-year-old son.
That helped soften the grind of a month’s worth of 12-hour days for one movie.
“But what I’m really most thankful for these days is simply being able to do shows where people are actually listening to what I’m doing,” said the performer, who once sang in restaurants and similar venues as background ambiance.
DeSare still sounds genuinely grounded in humility. And why not? When he established his own YouTube channel a few years ago, he set up the cameras, directed the shoots and even edited the finished music videos he posted. So DeSare is unaccustomed to expecting a cadre of helpers or hangers-on to move at his every whim as some successful artists have done.
So the man fond of covering Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” truly has done things his way — to the point that plans are being made for him to speak to a group of Indiana University students on entrepreneurial innovation.
“He has been able to effectively and successfully pick his way through a rapidly changing musical landscape,” Bowden said.
DeSare takes his music seriously, but seriously makes room for fun within it. His recent Facebook posts include one of a chicken tapping out a respectable and melodic “America the Beautiful” on a keyboard. And he also added a video of the comic Mr. Bean conducting an orchestra.
He figures his time with the Philharmonic can offer a kind of healing escape from the nation and the world’s worries for a brief time.
“I believe that the very act of performing shuts off all that commentary for a while in our mind,” DeSare said. “Because we’re focused on what’s happening in front of us right now.”
Who: Jazz-pop singer and pianist Tony DeSare in “I Love a Piano” concert with the Columbus Indiana Philharmonic. Featuring covers of artists ranging from Prince and the Bee Gees to Frank Sinatra, plus DeSare’s originals.
When: 7:30 p.m. Sept. 16.
Where: Columbus East High School auditorium, 230 S. Marr Road
Tickets: $5 to $55.
Musically speaking: A conversation between DeSare and Philharmonic Music Director David Bowden at 6:45 p.m.
Information: 812-376-2638 or thecip.org.