Theater & Arts

Artists you should know: Syd Harriet

Jazz singer Syd Harriet has spent his last few CDs digging into the Great American Songbook.

While the content hasn't changed much on his new CD, the aim has. His new CD is called "This One's for the O.A.B.," a tribute to Fresno City College's Old Administration Building.

Harriet, who teaches at Fresno City, is donating proceeds from the CD to the restoration of the beloved building. We talked to him about all this and more.

How did you come to make a CD in honor of Fresno City's Old Administration Building? In 1970 I taught classes in the Old Administration Building. That was one reason I accepted the position at Fresno City College. I thought it would be inspiring and give me a taste of the classrooms I sat in when I was a student in Providence, R.I., where I grew up. Now it is almost 40 years later and I would sure love to end my teaching career the same way I started it -- in one of the O.A.B.'s classrooms.

What better way to thank the college for giving me the opportunity to do what I love for that long.

Give us a quick rundown of the music on the CD. The jazz interpretations on the CD capture the little known tunes of the Great American Songbook: "How Do You Keep the Music Playing?" and "How Do You Start," as well as a medley of tunes by Hoagy Carmichael. I also pay tribute to Dorothy Fields and Harold Arlen, my idol.

Where can people buy it? You can buy it online at or Google Syd Harriet.

What else has been going on with you and your music since we last spoke? A great guitarist moved to Fresno, Mark Carlisle, and we have been "jazzing" The Great American Songbook at The Palms, 7550 N. Palm Ave., on Friday nights, and on Saturday nights at the Thai Kitchen and Lounge, 5104 N. West Ave. You can see live performances at both by going to YouTube and typing in Syd Harriet.

What do you have coming up in 2009? Mark Carlisle and I are putting together another CD, this one featuring more of the Great American Songbook. I'm hoping to donate the proceeds from this CD to KSFR because of what they have been doing for jazz with their great morning and afternoon programming.

We are also lining up a number of appearances that will be detailed soon on our Web site at or by contacting me at (559) 438-1883.

By the way, donations for "This One's For the O.A.B." CD can start at any amount.

Know a local musician that more people should be familiar with? Send the who and why to Mike Osegueda,