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"We’re really proud to be a part of this project and believe the audience to be massive."
—-Jim Weatherson, SVP/GM Disney Records
DISNEY, BRIAN REIMAGINE GERSHWIN
Beach Boys Founder’s Gershwin Album is a Childhood Dream Come True
Brian Wilson’s latest project has its roots in his childhood, when he first heard George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue,” sparking an interest in what would become a life-long career creating some of the world’s most memorable pop music.

Disney Pearl’s Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin, which comes out Aug. 17 and the following week on a limited-edition, numbered vinyl release, features the legendary Beach Boys auteur paying tribute to some of the greatest standards in American music, including “They Can’t Take That Away From Me,” “Someone to Watch Over Me” and “I Got Rhythm.”

“The more time you spend with the album, the more you realize it’s a beautiful recording that represents these two musical worlds coming together,” says VP Strategic Marketing & Promotion Rob Souriall, who is overseeing the roll-out of the album with Disney Records SVP/GM Jim Weatherson.

The idea came from Wilson himself, who was initially approached by Disney to do an album of songs associated with the company, but suggested the Gershwin tribute instead.

“Nine months later, he brought us into the studio and played it for us,” says Weatherson. “We were speechless. We’re really proud to be a part of this project and believe the audience to be massive. We have specific plans to reach the core Gershwin fan as well as the Brian Wilson fan base and the many new, younger fans we believe this project will cultivate.”

That includes working closely with Warner Chappell’s Brad Rosenberger, who administers the Gershwin catalog, in looking for film and TV opportunities. They hope to tie in to Steven Spielberg’s Gershwin biopic scheduled for release next year. There is also talk of a PBS Soundstage, and live performances of the album by Wilson in L.A. this fall and N.Y. after that. Hoping for Grammy buzz, the label has entered the release in nine different categories, including Album of the Year.

“We think this puts Brian into a more mainstream marketplace than he’s ever been, that could reach beyond his normal fan base,” says Souriall, who would love to emulate such left-field adult hit records as former Grammy winners like Ray CharlesGenius Loves Company and Natalie Cole’s Unforgettable.

If press reaction is any indication, the album is already off to a promising start. The day after a record release party at Pacific Design Center, at which Wilson performed “Rhapsody in Blue” with his band, L.A. Times’ Randy Lewis raved: “[M]ore than simply presenting a collection of Gershwin classics in Wilson’s voice, the album processes them through his one-of-a-kind musical imagination. It makes his excursion through material that’s been so widely performed for the better part of a century a uniquely illuminating outing.”

A four-star Spin review claimed: “Wilson is clearly engaged, and it’s delightful to hear one virtuoso finally meet up with another.”

New York magazine’s Aaron Gell enthused: “Wilson’s new record may be the summer’s most stunning mash-up… [He] has created gorgeous and unexpected arrangements that strip away decades of familiarity.”

Detroit Free Press added: “Enticing concept, brilliant execution… a gorgeous take.”

The adult-oriented Disney Pearl will soon release a record of contemporary jazz artists covering the Disney repertoire, an example of the generally youth-dominated Disney’s “cradle-to-grave” marketing philosophy. They’ve also signed a young tenor named Nathan Pacheco, a Josh Groban/Andrea Bocelli-type crooner.

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