When the light hits your eye and reflections of Dean Martin sweep by, that’s amore.
There’s no doubt that love will be in the air September 23 and 24 when the spotlight at the South Point will be on entertainer Deana Martin, daughter of the late Dean Martin. Her fun fast-paced show consisting of great music, home movies, videos and stories about her famous father and his renowned friends will offer an intimate look into the life of one of our most beloved entertainment icons. And her celebrating Dean’s centennial year – he would have turned 100 on June 7th – and putting on a new and spectacular show, "Deana Sings Dino," for the occasion that includes great musicians, two backup singers, the famous Golddiggers, and a special mystery guest is only ensuring that when it comes to her famous parent and her audiences, memories are made of this.
“Everybody loved Dean Martin,” Martin says about his legacy. “He made everybody smile. He had such style and grace and he stayed true to himself. Whether it was through his TV show, movies, as a recording artist or as an entertainer, he made everyone happy and feel good. Wherever I go all over the world, people sing “That’s Amore” when they see me. People know the song and they know who Dean Martin is.
“He’s with me all the time,” she continues. “I truly feel him with me. I feel him on stage – I almost become him when I’m performing.”
In addition to her new show, Martin has a new album out called “Swing Street,” which she recorded at Capitol Records, the same record company foe which her father recorded. She is also doing a documentary about her dad and has already interviewed the late Florence Henderson, Angie Dickinson, Regis Philbin, Bob Newhart, Norman Lear, Tommy Tune, and George Schlatter for it. She will also be interviewing Engelbert Humperdinck and Tony Orlando as well as other big names. Additionally, Martin is working on a new album called “Deana Sings Dino" that she hopes will be completed by the end of the year.
As an internationally acclaimed entertainer, Martin has become an instantly recognizable voice and fixture in the pantheon of ‘The Great American Songbook.’ Her 2006 debut CD release, “Memories Are Made of This,” stayed in a top ten sport for 40 consecutive weeks. Her follow-up CD released in 2009, “Volare,” debuted in the top ten of the Billboard charts, followed by “White Christmas,” released in 2011, the critically acclaimed 2013 hit album, “Destination Moon,” and her latest album released in 2016, “Swing Street,” have all garnered airplay on top radio stations in different genres including jazz, standards and country.
The middle child of seven, Martin remembers growing up in a house where friends like Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Judy Garland, Rosemary Clooney, Sammy Cahn and others always came to visit. Her godfather was Jimmy McHugh who wrote “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love.” Inspired by her father and all these other great legends, show business just became a part of her, as did her appreciation of the Great American Songbook.
“When they all came over, it would be a party,” Martin smiles. “Sammy would sit at the piano and everyone would sing parodies. I began singing professionally at around 16 or 17 but I was doing rock ‘n’ roll and country. Because of my age, I had to go to court to sign my first recording contract, which was with Columbia Records. My first hit was a country song on Reprise Records called ‘Girl of the Month Club.’ After that, I went to college to study drama and dance and I did plays. Then, about 10 years ago, I revisited the Great American Songbook. I wrote a book called “Memories Are Made of This,” which was a look at Dean Martin through his daughter’s eyes. It was then that people started asking me to do concerts and sing this music.”
What her father taught her the most, however, was something Martin says has stayed with her forever. That is to treat people the way she wants to be treated.
“That’s what my father did,” Martin acknowledges. “He had a connection with people. After my show, I go out and meet people, talk to them, hug them and share their memories of my father.”
Occasionally, however, Martin finds herself being taken aback by how her father is viewed. While Dean Martin is perhaps one of the most impersonated personalities of all time by celebrity impressionists, Martin admits that the image some depict of him in a drunken state is very offensive to her.
“In reality, my father didn’t drink much,” she reveals. “It was just his gimmick. But these people are putting the wrong impression of him out into the world and it isn’t right. People will come up to me and ask me how my dad did everything he did with his being drunk all the time. And it is very shocking and hurtful to me. I don’t mind impressionists doing him as long as that person is being respectful to him.
“My father was very sweet, kind, funny and tender,” she adds. “He hugged and kissed us a lot. I can remember the smell of his cologne, Wood Hue by Faberge. When he .hugged me, I could smell it. When he passed away on Christmas Day 1995, I got a bottle from his bathroom. I still have a little left.”
Although it is the past that is currently prominent in her performing life, Martin, who says she is learning every day, is very much looking forward to the future.
“I’d love to have a hit record; I’d love to go to Broadway; I’d love to turn my book into a Broadway musical,” she enthuses. “I love singing and entertaining people. I do write songs but I haven’t recorded them yet. But I’m working a lot and it’s wonderful .I’m singing with symphonies, big bands, at performing arts centers and with my quintet. What fun I’m having!”
Now that’s amore!