Cabaret singer to bring romantic tunes and croons to Valentine’s Day concert

Through the years, Spencer Day has loved the hearts-and-flowers feeling of Valentine’s Day as much as anyone. But the 44-year-old jazz-style singer feels like someone should stand up, and stand in, for those with no current partner, as he currently is.

“As Oscar Wilde would say, ‘To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance,’” he said, speaking by phone from Guadalajara, Mexico, where he now lives part time and studies Mexican music after the accidental success of a tequila TV commercial there. “That’s always maybe the hardest relationship to maintain, anyway.

“It’s much easier to look outside of yourself for someone else to complete you.

“With audiences, I’m trying to reach people like me on a date with themselves and also those fortunate to be currently sharing their life with someone else.”

So the keyboardist and vocalist pledges that his Feb. 14 Cabaret at The Commons concert — marking his third appearance there, the only artist with as many happy returns in the series’ eight-year history — will include a heartfelt tribute to self-love amid other tunes of real romance in a presentation he calls “The Look of Love.”

The set list, to be enhanced by a veteran pop-rock and jazz guitarist and also a bassist, will highlight material from his 2022 disc “Broadway By Day,” covering stage tunes with decidedly different arrangements.

“They are done in my own weird way,” he said with a laugh.

Maybe the only crazily weird thing about Day’s way is the fact that his rich, baritone voice makes many a past recording sound better than the original, if that’s even possible when he’s covering such classic, untouchable artists as Louis Armstrong (“What a Wonderful World”) and even The Beatles’ George Harrison (“Here Comes the Sun”), for heaven’s sake, in a soft and silky smooth-jazz approach.

It’s been enough to put him near the top of Billboard’s jazz charts for some time, including with his original, upbeat tunes such as “72 and Sunny.”

Keep in mind that he was a guy in his 20s initially singing in venues such as retirement homes before his signature sound won him headlining appearances everywhere from the Hollywood Bowl to the Kennedy Center. He laughed at himself about an Indianapolis TV news station appearance a year ago at roughly 5 a.m. in which he was feeling less than vigorous and healthy.

“That’s when things really force you to sing most creatively,” he said. “In those moments, your own personal technique or whatever modality you have trained yourself in, has to come through. Sometimes I enjoy hearing older singers who can’t quite easily pull out all their old bells and whistles because that’s when you can really hear their musicality.

“You can see how they, despite maybe even a vocal injury, can say, ‘Here’s how I’m going to work to stay emotionally connected (to the music).”

Away from music, he has spent considerable energy the past few years on behalf of Border Angels, a charity working to improve migrant rights, immigration reform, legal counsel and the prevention of immigrant deaths along the US-Mexico border. And, in case folks are wondering, he has little interest in talking politics.

“As an artist,” he said, “my job is always to focus on our shared humanity and not our differences. I continue to see this not as a political thing, but a human rights thing. This is something that I continually want to support, just like I do for Alzheimer’s and just like I do for a lot of HIV charities and for Feeding America.”

About the concert

Who: Keyboardist and vocalist Spencer Day in a Cabaret at The Commons stripped-down performance.

When: 7:30 p.m. Feb. 14.

Where: The Commons, 300 Washington St. in downtown Columbus.