If you know anything about Wayne Newton at all, you probably think of a mainstream American singer who made his career mostly in Las Vegas, a big man with a big personality and a complicated personal and business life. But there’s another side to him. He was a sort of child prodigy, performing in public from a very early age. In fact Newton was a supremely talented young man—a singer of great charm and elegance, with a perfect sense of rhythm and a magnetic yet discreet presence on stage. It’s worth your while to watch this clip of a 26-year-old Wayne Newton singing one of his trademark songs, “Danke Schoen,” in 1968.
From head to toe, Newton is energized and directed. His head and neck are poised, and his shoulders relaxed. His legs and feet move only a little bit—but, oh, how intelligently, how creatively! The song gets bigger and more exciting moment by moment, but Newton doesn’t lose his cool at all. Instead he just “opens up his energy field,” so to speak. His sense of rhythm and phrasing is supremely sophisticated, every note and inflection sparkling with joie de vivre. And his voice is the very sound of happiness. If you’re a singer, instrumentalist, conductor, dancer, or actor . . . watch and learn!