The Story Behind Margaret's Last Studio Recording:
Send In The Clowns/This Nearly Was Mine

Margaret Whiting and Gary Kline
June 29, 2001


This wonderful late-life recording of Margaret's was the inspiration of Gary Kline. Gary is a singer, a Professor of Musical Theater and Assistant Head of Acting, Musical Theater at Carnegie Mellon University, as well as a nationally known voice teacher. Back in the summer of 2000, he was part of the staff at the Cabaret Symposium at the O'Neill Theater in Connecticut. On the faculty that year (and for many years) was song legend, Margaret Whiting.

At one point during one of the symposium's shows Gary performed a Mark Blitstein song. Upon finishing, he heard from the darkness a loud, confident, voice say, "That was beautiful." It was, as Gary recalls, "love at first hearing" and the beginning of his treasured friendship with Margaret.

Having been a long time fan Margaret's, he didn't let the week end before asking her if she would record a duet with him. He envisioned her singing Stephen Sondheim's "Send in the Clowns." She was thrilled at the possibility as she'd never recorded it and really wanted to. Margaret's daughter remembers that in her mom's later years, her apartment was almost always filled with the sound of Sondheim's music. Her mother seemed to be at a place in her life where his lyrics really spoke to her, and she was able to connect with them in a way she hadn't before. Unknown to Gary, the chance to finally record this song held incredible meaning for Margaret. It's fitting that it ended up being her last studio recording.

Gary had his musician friend, Gerry Dantry, create a lovely arrangement of "Send in the Clowns" coupled with "This Nearly Was Mine." When Gary first heard it, he knew it would be "the golden ticket for Margaret and me."

The pre-recorded track and music were sent to Margaret, and she spent time rehearsing it with her long-time musical director, Tex Arnold. They made the decision to lower the key from C to B flat for Margaret's comfort.

Gary let Margaret know that he was making plans to be in New York the last week of June 2001 and wanted to record with her. Margaret was hesitant to set a specific date for recording. When Gary arrived in New York, Margaret had still not committed to a time to record. Finally, about mid-week, while waiting patiently in his New York hotel he got a call from Margaret, she was ready to record. Miraculously he was able to book studio time for that Friday, June 29th at 3:00 p.m. (just hours before his flight back to Pittsburgh was scheduled to depart).

Gary recalls, "I still remember picking her up in a taxi (yes, a taxi) that afternoon and riding down to 47th and Broadway to a studio on the 9th floor. Margaret was amazing. She leaned on a cane the entire time, donned very thick glasses, but sang so amazing - I wept. Though her voice has lost much of the quality it had in it's prime, the emotion and the life experience she brought to it is unparalleled. One only has to listen to the way she spoke the final note, 'they’re finally.....HERE!' or hear the humor she found in singing, "one who can't move," while relying on her cane for complete support."

The other amazing part of this recording is that she didn't have to re-record a single note. To accommodate her decreased stamina, they recorded the song in sections, but what you're hearing is completely authentic, first takes.

Gary left on that plane with tape (yes, tape) in tow. He almost didn't need that plane to get him back to Pittsburgh. He was practically floating, having just experienced one of the happiest days in his musical career.

The entire experience was a master class for Gary and continued even after the recording was released. Margaret, never one to mince words, gave Gary her honest critique of all the songs on his CDs. Gary teaches amazing students at Carnegie Mellon, and Margaret's presence in his life continues to inspire him to inspire them.

Margaret was, as all of her friends and family will attest, one of the most positive people on the planet. She continually looked forward and didn't have time for living in the past. And in spite of her limitations and frailties that had come with age and a stroke, she sang this song with not one ounce of self-pity. And while fans may have wished she'd recorded it a time in her career when she was capable of a little more flare, the poignancy of this legendary singer approaching this song with unbridled honesty, is cause for tremendous applause.