Friday, November 21, 2014
PHILADELPHIA TRIBUNE -- The versatile and distinctive voice of Johnny Mathis has been enchanting audiences around the world since the age of 19. He was an athletic scholarship freshman at San Francisco State College in 1955, when Columbia staff A&R producer George Avakian “discovered” him singing in a Bay Area nightclub. Mathis was not yet 21 when he finally arrived in New York City for his first recording sessions with Avakian in 1956. Columbia A&R chief Mitch Miller took over Mathis’ hit-making production reins from 1957 to 1960. In spite of a very busy tour schedule and many charity events, Mathis recently found time to speak, and his was evident. “Life is good … I’m old!” proclaimed the 79-year-old crooner. Mathis has sold well more than 350 million records worldwide as confirmed by Guinness music chart, but it is the holiday season that resonates with him. Since 1958, Mathis has recorded five albums of Christmas music.