Johnny Mathis makes his connection at Mayo

| 22 Oct 2012 | 10:14

— Whether it's a romantic ballad or music from the Great American Songbook, Johnny Mathis charms audiences with his silky vocals and elegant stage presence that have made him one of the most popular crooners of the past 50 years. Mathis performs two concerts, accompanied by a 30-piece orchestra, at Mayo Performing Arts Center, Friday and Saturday, Oct. 26 and 27 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $85-$150.

Johnny Mathis uses a fitting description when he talks about the connection he makes with his fans onstage.

"It's a love affair. The performances are the thing that buoys me; I've never gotten tired of them."

While the 76-year-old Mathis no longer undertakes extensive tours, preferring to perform one or two times each month, he has no plans to hang up his microphone anytime soon.

"I still love to sing and I still enjoy making that connection with an audience," he said.

"I used to think 'too many ballads, and they'll get bored' - then my guitarist reminded me that that's what they're here to hear," Mathis recalled. Indeed, since his first recordings in 1956 - when Mathis was still a teenager - balladry has been his trademark, and the key to record sales exceeding more than 350 million worldwide.

In the more than 50 years since his first hit records, Mathis has successfully wooed several generations of fans through early hits like "Wonderful, Wonderful," "Chances Are" and "It's Not for Me to Say," and later successes, including 1978's chart-topping "Too Much, Too Little, Too Late," a duet with Deniece Williams. His 2011 album, "Let It Be Me: Mathis In Nashville," earned a Grammy nomination for the Lifetime Grammy Achievement winner.

Mathis said his next record will be a collection of duets with "some amazing people who have been performing for some time." While he won't name names, Mathis said he's "very excited" about the new project and with how his career continues to flourish. "I'm very happy in what I'm doing," Mathis said. "It's all been quite an amazing journey."