'It represents the building blocks of popular music': Downtown signs deal for Gershwin catalogue

'It represents the building blocks of popular music': Downtown signs deal for Gershwin catalogue

Downtown Music Publishing has signed a publishing administration and catalogue marketing agreement for the George Gershwin catalogue.

The agreement is with the Godowsky family and Heyward Memorial Fund, respective successors to the historic American songwriter and Porgy and Bess authors DuBose and Dorothy Heyward.

In addition to many of Gershwin’s famous works, the agreement includes management of more than 300 previously unpublished songs that have been largely unavailable since their discovery in the 1980s.

“The George Gershwin catalogue, including his work on Porgy and Besswith DuBose and Dorothy Heyward, features not only some of the most iconic songs in the Great American Songbook, but represents the building blocks of popular music,” said Justin Kalifowitz, CEO of Downtown Music Holdings, parent company of Downtown Music Publishing.

“To be entrusted with these legendary works – which remain as culturally relevant today as ever – is a true honor and a testament to our team.”

In thinking about the next home for these celebrated works, we wanted a focused, creative and energetic music publisher

Jonathan Keidan

“In thinking about the next home for these celebrated works, we wanted a focused, creative and energetic music publisher,” said Jonathan Keidan, great-nephew of George Gershwin and trustee for the Gershwin/Godowsky Trust. “Downtown understands both the importance of nurturing these American classics - ensuring that they remain beloved and relevant today while also finding new ways to bring them to the next generation of Gershwin fans.” 

The agreement covers many of Gershwin’s most well-known compositions, including songs such as They Can't Take That Away From Me, Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off, Love Is Here to Stay, Nice Work If You Can Get It and Summertime. Among the more than 300 previously unpublished songs included in the agreement are unused works from classic films including Shall We Dance and A Damsel in Distress, as well as songs that were posthumously co-written with Brian Wilson.

Porgy and Bess is set for a major revival at The Metropolitan Opera in New York City, opening in September 2019. The show’s iconic Summertime is one of the most covered songs in the history of recorded music. It has inspired more than 25,000 renditions, including those by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, Sam Cooke, Janis Joplin and Willie Nelson.

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