David Seering — the man and his music (UPDATE: Concert rescheduled)
The final concert of the Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation's Concerts in the Village, scheduled for July 3, has been canceled due to weather conditions. It will be held at 7 p.m. July 11.
Easy listening, a melody, and words that can be understood — That’s David Seering's kind of music.
"My music is simple," Seering told The Log. "I'm not much of a rap person or songs that don't seem to have much music behind them. I like music that I think people want to listen or dance to."
Whether behind the piano or in front of an orchestra, Seering performs the big band sounds of Johnny Mercer to Frank Sinatra to Elton John.
“The big band music is timeless, and it seems that as years go by, that style never seems to go away," he said. "Of course, I can never get away from doing my rendition from Phantom of the Opera at any given performance. It's like Billy Joel not doing Piano Man in his concerts.”
For Seering, born one of 10 children in Green Bay, Wis., music came as easy as breathing. His father was a music teacher and founder of the Allouez Village Band in Wisconsin, and his mother was a band singer in the 1940s.
“I taught myself how to play the piano at age 3 and started performing with my dad's dance band at age 6, doing weddings and parties,” he said. “As far as singing, it just came natural to me, so you can say I never had any lessons — just taught myself.”
Seering went on to learn the trumpet, French horn and violin and played in bands in elementary school, junior high and high school. His first professional gig at the age of 16 was on New Year's Eve 1976 playing piano at Eve's Supper Club in Green Bay for $50.
A presidential performer
Through the years, Seering had a six-year career as lead vocalist and master of ceremonies for the U.S. Army Forces Command Band, made guest appearances with numerous symphonies, including the Atlanta “Pops” Orchestra, USC Symphony Orchestra and Northwest Florida Symphony. He has also performed with such greats at Robert Goulet, Helen Reddy, Phyllis Diller, Mickey Gilley, Mickey Rooney and B.J. Thomas. He also did the musical accompaniment for the motion pictures "Baton Rouge" and "Cousins."
One of Seering's favorite performances, however, was at the 80th birthday celebration for former president Ronald Reagan in Atlanta in 1991.
"Mrs. Reagan requested we sing his favorite song to him, 'It Had To Be You,' and we did," Seering said. "Afterwards I had the honor of sitting with the president, and I told him that being in the Army band for six years while he was my commander in chief was one of my biggest honors in my life. He stood up, saluted me and said in his great voice, 'Thank you for your service, soldier'. Choked me up, as it still does today, when I am reminded of that very special performance."
Seering also performed, by invitation, for President Jimmy Carter and at an inauguration gala in 2001 for George W. Bush, as well as for former Georgia Gov. Joe Frank Harris and Gov. Mike Foster of Louisiana.
In 1997, Seering made the move to Destin and was hired by Cary and Marilyn Shahid to work full time at The Ocean Club.
"The 13 years I worked there were some of the best musical times of my life."
Since moving to Destin, Seering has stayed busy performing for locals, tourists and snowbirds.
"I love the snowbirds," he said. "I think I appeal to them because of the style of music I play and I play what they want. They really show their appreciation back to me. The snowbirds seem to stay the same, because they love what Destin has to offer them in the winter."
Some of Seering's most popular performances were with the David & David concerts with Destin's David Ott, a composer and musician.
"Those shows we did were amazing," Seering said. "David Ott is one of the most talented musicians I have ever met in my life. His knowledge is incredible and his showmanship is top notch. I would hope in the future we could reprise a performance together."
When he's in town now, Seering performs at Tuscany Italian Bistro at 7 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays. He is also music director at The Gathering worship service at Sandestin at 10 a.m. Sunday mornings.
Seering sees his talent as God given — a gift on loan that he is just using.
"God gave me this talent for two reasons, weddings and funerals, everything else in between is a bonus," Seering said. "I love playing the piano and trumpet at the same time while doing a rendition of Louis Armstrong's 'It's A Wonderful World.' That always seems to get some appreciation from my audience."
Seering also loves his charity work, and for the past 29 years he has hosted a local telethon in his hometown of Green Bay for the Northeast Wisconsin Cerebral Palsy Center.
"We have raised more than $30 million in that time. It's live television and one of my favorite performances I do each year.
"I try very hard to be as charitable as I can with the talent God has given me. I have always been a believer that you have to give back what was given to you."
CONCERT IN THE VILLAGE
David Seering will perform An American Patriotic Tribute for the Mattie Kelly Arts Foundations' Concerts in the Village at 7 p.m. July 3 at the Mattie Kelly Cultural Arts Village Dugas Pavilion in Destin. Admission is $8/adult and children under 12 and MKAF members are free. Call 650-2226.