He called his fans “great people,” remembering the love he’s received from them.
“You should walk down the street with me one day. These strangers say the most beautiful things to me. They thank me for helping them through their lives,” Manilow said.
“The impact I’ve had on people…” he added, choking up. “I’m sorry, I’m going to [cry]. It’s thrilling.”
If the legendary singer seems particularly emotional, it’s likely because opening up to the public about his sexuality and his private life for the first time is a big step.
“I’m a private guy,” Manilow explained. “I’m a musician. Yes, fame hit me, but I never really wanted to go on that ride. So I kept my dogs to myself — I kept my home to myself.”
That “home” included his 39-year relationship with longtime manager husband Garry Kief. And while he admits that talking about his personal life is still “uncomfortable,” the topic of being gay isn’t.
“I’m not uncomfortable about that,” he said. “Garry and I have been together going on 40 years. It’s amazing for anybody.”
How have fans been reacting since the news broke?
“It’s been great,” Manilow said. “It’s no news to me and no news to everyone around me. Family, friends, band — I think even fans. I don’t think it was news at all. But the Enquirer caught us getting married, so we were stuck. So we let PEOPLE Magazine come on in.”
Elsewhere on Today, Manilow performed a handful of his songs (in the rain no less) to an enthusiastic crowd at the NBC morning show’s Citi Concert Series.
Among them were “On Broadway” (peppered with a few lines of his 1977 hit “New York City Rhythm”) and 1976’s “Daybreak.”
He also sang 1978’s “Copacabana (At the Copa)” — a tune demanded by the Today team and Manilow’s biggest fans, who got #SingCopaToday trending on Twitter to convince the crooner to add the iconic tune to his set list.
RELATED VIDEO:Barry Manilow Reveals Why He Didn’t Come Out for Decades: I Thought I Would ‘Disappoint’ Fans if They Knew I Was Gay
It was the latest in a string of performances the legendary singer has been making over the past week, as he preps for the release of his 30th studio album, This Is My Town: Songs of New York — out Friday.
The following evening he performed in a tribute to Clive Davis alongside Jennifer Hudson, Earth, Wind and Fire, Kenny G, Carly Simon and Aretha Franklin at Radio City Music Hall — where the Tribeca Film Festival kicked off with the premiere of a documentary on the superstar producer, Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of Our Lives.
Today airs weekdays (7 a.m. – 11 a.m.) on NBC.