Singer Melissa Errico Unveils Oscar-Winning Composer Michel Legrand’s Last Song on New Album
On Nov. 8, Warner Music/Ghostlight Records is releasing Legrand Affair: Deluxe Edition, which Errico made with the late composer
Singer, actress, and writer Melissa Errico is one of the lucky few who got to work closely with legendary Oscar-winning composer Michel Legrand, famous for some of the most iconic movie scores of all time, including Yentl, Brian’s Song and Summer of ‘42.
Though more than 30 years apart in age, the two formed a working partnership and sweet friendship that spanned nearly two decades, starting when she starred in the 2002 Broadway premiere of his musical, Amour.
“I literally grew up with him,” Errico, who was nominated for a Tony Award for best leading actress in a musical for her role as the Dior-loving, magazine devouring Isabelle in Amour, tells PEOPLE.
Ranked among one of Barbra Streisand’s all-time favorite composers and collaborators, the French pianist created many of the superstar’s most famous hits, including “Papa Can You Hear Me?” and “The Way He Makes Me Feel” from the Oscar-winning score of the 1983 film Yentl, in which she plays the title role.
In Errico, who has starred in Broadway’s High Society and appeared on Showtime’s hit drama, Billions, he found another muse. “He would often say, ‘Melissa, yours is the voice I can hear in my head when I write,’” says Errico, who is married to tennis star and ESPN commentator Patrick McEnroe, with whom she has three daughters.
Sharing “a common spirit, so much energy and a taste in music,” she says, the two went on to record an album together, Legrand Affair, which debuted in 2011, including some of his biggest hits, such as “Windmills of Your Mind.”
When Legrand died this January in Paris at age 86, Errico not only lost a longtime friend but a beloved mentor. “It was a huge loss,” she says. “This is somebody I never expected to meet. He became probably the person who gave me the greatest life experiences I’ll ever have. He opened the whole world to me.”
As the “premier interpreter of the musical legacy of Michel Legrand,” as Broadway World has called her, Errico penned a loving eulogy for him in The New York Times. It was an intimate tribute to the man who taught her so much, titled “Swept Up in the Whirlwind Known as Michel Legrand.”
She was honored to be the only American to sing at his Paris memorial in April.
Now, Errico, 49, is proud to announce that on Nov. 8, Warner Music/Ghostlight Records is re-releasing the album the two made together with the Brussels Philharmonic called Legrand Affair: Deluxe Edition.
Calling this last collaboration “a gift,” the album features 12 new tracks, including the very last song Legrand ever composed with his longtime collaborators, famed lyricists Alan and Marilyn Bergman — “I Haven’t Thought of This in Quite a While” — which PEOPLE is exclusively debuting here.
“It’s quite an honor to debut his final composition,” says Errico.
The album is a tribute to the maestro “from the point of view of an artist who came of age working with him and now feels mature enough to express every aspect of his musical emotion,” she says.
Legrand penned the song just months before he died. “He was writing it for a musical with the Bergmans, with whom he did all these movies and won so many Oscars,” she says.
“The song is the most beautiful retrospective of long, long love,” says Errico. “It’s sung by a widow who was looking through wedding pictures. People who have lost anyone and value that memory can relate to it.”
Calling the song “a masterpiece,” she says it has Legrand’s signature all over it. “When you hear it, there are little touches of jazz, little touches of Broadway, little touches of classical music — all of his styles. It was his last song, and in a way, you hear echoes of his whole career in the song.”
A Hidden Treasure
Errico thought she already had Legrand’s last song, “Hurry Home,” which he sent her to sing for Jerry Lewis’ last movie, 2016’s Max Rose.
After Legrand’s death, she learned from the Bergmans that he had written yet one more song with them.
“They emailed the song to me,” she says. “They said, ‘We would love you to sing it, record it.’ It was sent to me with their blessing.”
Errico cherishes the memories she has of Legrand, whom she describes as high-energy most of the time.
“But when he sat down at the piano, the music was so calm,” she says. “He soothed himself with it. He was like a little boy in many ways. He was a contrast of a person.”
While looking through memorabilia from her time with Legrand, she said she found a box of studio demos she had recorded with him at the piano at her home.
These demos are included Legrand Affair (Deluxe Edition), which is produced by Rob Mathes (Sting, Carly Simon, Rod Stewart) and now available for pre-order.