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September 21: Happy Birthday Faith Hill and Leonard Cohen

0921HillCohen

Country pop star Faith Hill turns 50 today.  She grew up singing at churches in the Jackson, Mississippi area, and moved to Nashville to try to start a singing career when she turned 19.  She worked for a while as a secretary at a music publisher, and also sang backup vocals for a singer named Gary Burr.  A Warner’s executive heard her performing with Burr one night and signed Hill to a recording contract.  Her first album, Take Me as I Am, came out in 1993.

Hill’s first two albums both reached the top 10 on the Country charts, but it was her third album, Faith, released in 1998, that she entered her period of greatest success.  It was a top 10 performer on both the Country charts and the Billboard 200, and her next three albums reached #1 on both charts.  She has won five Grammys, including one for this 2005 hit.

Hill has been married to fellow country star Tim McGraw since 1996.  The two have toured together regularly; their Soul2Soul II Tour in 2006 became the highest grossing country tour of all time.  Earlier this year they released the single “Speak to a Girl,” from an upcoming album of duets which the two are recording.

Singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen (1934-2016) passed away last November at the age of 82.  One of the most literary figures in modern music, Cohen learned guitar as a boy and began performing in his teens.  However, he first became known as a writer.  He began publishing poetry while attending McGill University, and his first collection of poems came out in 1956.  In the early 1960s, he published two poetry collections as well as a pair of novels.  While since the mid-sixties he was more focused on his music, he continued to publish poetry collections at intervals for the remainder of his life.

In about 1966, Cohen began to focus on a career as a singer-songwriter.  His song “Suzanne” was covered by Judy Collins that year, and has also been recorded by Noel Harrison, Anni-Frid Lyngstad (of ABBA fame), Nina Simone, and many others.  Collins also persuaded Cohen to perform at the 1967 Newport Folk Festival, and that exposure led to his first album, The Songs of Leonard Cohen, later that year.  His profile was also increased when Robert Altman included three of Cohen’s songs in the soundtrack for McCabe & Mrs. Miller.

For most of his career, Cohen, while he enjoyed moderate commercial success, was better known for his artistry, and for covers of his songs by others—besides “Suzanne,” he is known for frequently-covered numbers like “Bird on the Wire” and “Hallelujah,” the latter of which reportedly has been performed by nearly 200 artists around the world.  In his final years, Cohen had a late-in-life renaissance; his 2012 album Old Ideas reached #3 on the Billboard 200, and two subsequent albums peaked at 15th and 7th.

Rob Morrow turns 55.  A nominee for three Golden Globes and two Emmys on Northern Exposure in the early 1990s, he also starred on CBS’s Numbers from 2005-2010.  Angus Macfadyen, best known for playing Robert the Bruce in Braveheart, is 54; more recently he played Robert Rogers on Turn: Washington’s SpiesAutumn Reeser, who is 37 today, has had roles in films like The Big Bang and Sully, and this year has been seen in Kill ‘Em All and Valley of Bones.  Indian actress Kareena Kapoor, one of Bollywood’s biggest stars and a six-time Filmfare Award winner, is also 37 today.  Joseph Mazzello, who some will remember as Tim Murphy in Jurassic Park, is 34; he will play John Deacon of Queen in Bohemian RhapsodyAllison Scagliotti, known for regular roles on Warehouse 13 and Stitchers, is turning 27.  Shelley Conn turns 41; she was a regular on NBC’s shortlived Heartbeat and now is featured on the Sundance/ITV miniseries LiarPaulo Costanzo, who turns 39, has joined the regular cast of Designated Survivor for its second season.

Basketball Hall of Famer Artis Gilmore is 68 today.  He starred at Jacksonville University, led the Kentucky Colonels of the ABA to a title during his five seasons with them, and then made six NBA All-Star games following the NBA-ABA merger of 1976.  Bruce Arena, probably the most successful American-born soccer coach ever, turns 66.  He guided the University of Virginia to five NCAA titles, then became the coach of DC United of the newly-formed MLS in 1996 and led them to victories in the first two MLS Cups.  As US Men’s National Team coach, he led the US to the quarterfinals of the 2002 World Cup, their best finish since 1930.  Returning to MLS, he won three more MLS Cups with the LA Galaxy, before returning as national team coach last fall after the firing of Jürgen Klinsmann last fall.  Retired auto racer Arie Luyendyk turns 64 today.  He won the Indianapolis 500 in 1990 and 1997 and finished in the top ten four additional times.

Henry L. Stimson (1867-1950) served in major policy making posts in three presidential administrations, including one which was not of his own party.  He was appointed Secretary of War by President Taft in 1911, and then served as Secretary of State under President Hoover.  In July, 1940, President Franklin Roosevelt, a Democrat, asked the Republican Stimson to serve as Secretary of War a second time, and Stimson remained in the office until the end of World War 2.  Composer Gustav Holst (1874-1934), who despite his German-sounding name was English, had a long career in music; however, he is probably one of the leading “one hit wonders” of the classical music world, as he is best known by far for his orchestral suite The Planets.

One year ago on September 21, we featured the big names of Bill Murray and Stephen King as headliners.

Bill Murray is 67 today.  Last year, he was honored with the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, given annually by the Kennedy Center.  He continues his association with Wes Anderson next year as a voice actor in Isle of DogsStephen King, who is 70, has two new books out or coming out this year; Gwendy’s Button Box came out in June, while Sleeping Beauties will be out next week.

Ethan Coen, who turns 60, co-wrote the script for Suburbicon with his brother Joel; it was screened at Venice and Toronto and comes out in October.  Jerry Bruckheimer is still producing as he turns 74; he was the producer of the latest Pirates of the Caribbean film and an executive producer of the upcoming GeostormDavid Wenham, who appeared in that Pirates of the Caribbean film, turns 52.  Also 52 is Cheryl Hines, who will be seen in the upcoming Bad Moms ChristmasDave Coulier, who continues to appear as Joey Gladstone on Fuller House, is 58.  Nancy Travis, who turns 56, finished the final season of Last Man Standing earlier this year.  Luke Wilson, who celebrates his 46th, starred in this year’s Measure of a Man and Brad’s StatusRicki Lake, who turns 49, appeared in the well-received indie film GeminiLiam Gallagher, the former lead singer of Oasis, is 45; his first solo album comes out next month.  Maggie Grace celebrates her 34th; she appeared earlier this year in The Scent of Rain and Lightning and AftermathChristian Serratos, who turns 27, continues to play Rosita Espinosa on The Walking Dead.

If today is your birthday, congratulations on sharing your big day with these notable names.  Birthday wishes to everyone celebrating a big day today.  Come back tomorrow for more celebrity birthdays.

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Posted on September 21, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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