The name "Kenny Loggins" dropped in a crowded room, is guaranteed to draw a mixed reaction. But for every critic who cringes at Loggins'' light rock and New Age proclivities, there will be plenty of people who glow.
The success of Loggins'' career is clear from the number of his fans: He''s sold more than 22 million records, he has six platinum and six gold albums; Loggins has been nominated for a bunch of Grammys and has won two of them: Song of the Year ("What A Fool Believes") and Best Pop Vocal Performance ("This Is It"). His song "Footloose" earned an Academy Award nomination, and in August of 2000, he received a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
In the early ''70s, Loggins and his musical partner Jim Messina amassed a string of hits including "Danny''s Song," "Your Mama Don''t Dance" and "Angry Eyes" before the pair parted ways in 1976. After that, Loggins'' career as a solo act soared through the ''80s and ''90s with hits like "Celebrate Me Home," "Whenever I Call You Friend," "I''m Alright" and "Danger Zone." But it was in 1991 that Loggins'' personal and musical life became particularly intertwined.
Released in the fall of 1991, Leap of Faith marked Loggins'' first recording project with his new wife, Julia. The album contained "Conviction of the Heart," which became the unofficial anthem of the Clinton administration''s environment movement, and introduced the world to a Kenny Loggins who was gentler and more mature than in his "Your Mama Don''t Dance" days. Not only were listeners introduced to Loggins'' new outlook on life and relationships, but they began to see Loggins'' desire to make a positive contribution to the world around him.
The album received so much popular acclaim--including some letters from doctors and nurses caring for newborn infants--that Loggins decided to try his hand at creating an album that didn''t sing down to children. It wasn''t entirely uncharted territory. As a senior in high school, Loggins had written "House at Pooh Corner," a song he refers to as "my farewell to childhood." The song was first recorded by The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and the version later recorded by Loggins and Messina went platinum. For his new album, Loggins added a third verse, renamed it "Return to Pooh Corner" and made it the title song of his first children''s album. In his bio, he calls the record "the work of a lifetime."
His next record, The Unimaginable Life is in many ways the sequel to Leap of Faith. Here, Loggins plunges head-first into New Age territory. One song, "Birth Energy," actually starts off with Julia and some female friends chanting, "I am opening up." This record is meant to be the soundtrack to the Loggins'' intensely personal book of the same name, written about the first six years of their love and life. Compiled from more than 70 personal journals, it is a journey through the truths, strategies, and passions that the couple feels are essential to all successful relationships.
In the second half of the 1990s, Loggins released several albums as well as an Emmy-nominated TV special, "This Island Earth," an educational film on the environment for the National Park Service, and a nature documentary titled The Song of the Wolf. Loggins also became the spokesperson for Green Mountain Energy and for Earth''s Best natural and organic baby foods.
Loggins'' most recent recording is another children''s project More Songs From Pooh Corner, released in early 2000. It is comprised of songs that Loggins sang to his own children and songs that he learned as a child, and features the Grammy-nominated "Your Heart Will Lead You Home," which is featured in Disney''s The Tigger Movie.
A portion of the proceeds from Saturday''s concert will be earmarked for the Monterey Sports Center''s expansion. Given Loggins'' musical efforts on behalf of children and the Sports Center''s focus on activities for kids, the match seems particularly appropriate.
At the show, you''ll hear some familiar tunes as well as some new ones from Loggins'' next album, which is scheduled for release in the first quarter of 2002. If Loggins'' past performances are any indication, the show should be more than two hours that will take the audience, if not the critics, to a happy and simpler time of life.
Kenny Loggins performs a benefit concert for the Monterey Sports Center on Saturday at the Monterey Conference Center, 1 Portola Plaza, Monterey. Showtime is 8pm. Tickets: $125, $85, $65. 649-1223.