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Miami Valley Music Focus explores the places and people behind the music of Southwest, Ohio.

Ohio Rocks! Hit songs from legendary Ohioans - 'Willkommen'

Pop songs made for radio aren’t the only ones that matter, to critics or music fans. There’ve been many instances of songs from television shows, movies, and stage plays that have exploded in popularity and become pop culture staples. Willkommen is an example of a composition from a play that became popular outside of its medium.

The singer/performer of Willkommen is the legendary Cleveland, Ohio born Joel Grey. He’s performed in films, plays, and television programs. During his 80 year career (he started performing in Cleveland when he was ten years old, he’s now 90.), he’s won Tony, Academy, and Golden Globe Awards. The one role that he’s arguably most known for is The Emcee, from the play and movie Cabaret. The creepy but fascinating character sings Willkommen as he introduces the audience (the audience in the play/film and us, the actual audience) to the 1930’s Berlin, Germany nightclub that’s a prominent location of the story. The Emcee’s performance (and the song) is also creepy and fascinating, but also sexually charged, wikedly funny, and bawdy. The song was written and produced by John Kander and Fred Ebb.

Here is Grey’s performance of this classic song in a video below. It is a risque act in certain parts. But, it’s a knockout bit, and Grey slays in it. I don’t have enough space in this article, but Grey’s career and life is the stuff of legend. It would take possibly two pieces to properly list and analyze his accomplishments. We’ll just concentrate on another Ohioan done well and his great song and contribution to American popular culture.

Miami Valley Music Focus explores the places and people behind the music of Southwest, Ohio. This series is made possible by support from Ohio Arts Council.

Greg Simms Jr. is a veteran content creator and cultural expert who's worked for numerous digital publications over the years. He's a resident of Greene County, but he's always aware of social-cultural events happening all over the Miami Valley. To contact Greg, email him at: grgsmmsjr@gmail.com