This year, an annual Independence Day celebration includes a Jersey boy.
Frankie Valli — the singer who long has led pop music’s iconic Four Seasons — will be among the performers on the annual PBS special “A Capitol Fourth” Friday (July 4) from the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. Emmy winner Tom Bergeron (“Dancing With the Stars,” “America’s Funniest Home Videos”) returns as host for the third consecutive year.
“It’s exciting,” Valli tells Zap2it of the occasion. “It’s a great celebration for America, and for people to stop for a moment and realize what America really is — and how important it is to everything that goes on in the world. The sound of freedom comes from America; it was the place anybody who wanted to escape oppression thought about coming to.”
Valli hopes to express that thought during “A Capitol Fourth,” but he realizes “time may be of the essence.” Also set for the show are Patti LaBelle, Jordin Sparks, Michael McDonald, Sara Evans, the Muppets, Big Time Rush’s Kendall Schmidt, “American Idol” Season 11 winner Phillip Phillips and Broadway star Kelli O’Hara.
Additionally, multiple Oscar winner John Williams will conduct a new arrangement of “The Star Spangled Banner” on its 200th anniversary, and Jack Everly will lead the National Symphony Orchestra.
Bergeron will take personal pleasure in presenting Valli on “A Capitol Fourth.” The amiable host says the two “coincidentally have been on the same flight from L.A. to New York and back a few times. I’ve had the chance to really chat with him at some length, and he’s such a great guy.”
With the Clint Eastwood-directed movie version of “Jersey Boys” — the story of the Four Seasons — now in theaters, it’s a big summer for Valli. “We have had an incredible career,” he reflects of the group that turned out “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Walk Like a Man,” “Working My Way Back to You” and “December 1963 (Oh, What a Night)” among many other tunes.
“We had hits in the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s and ’90s,” Valli notes, “and here we are, enjoying an enormous hit with a play going into its 10th year on Broadway, with six or seven companies around the world. How much more could anybody ask? Many of the things that have happened for us are things I never dreamed would be able to.”
Valli cites Eastwood “as a great director” but admits “it took me a while to get to really love ‘Jersey Boys’ on stage. It’s very strange to watch someone perform your life, but you get used to the way they do it. It took about four or five times seeing the play for that to happen, and it’ll probably be the same thing with the movie.”
After a 2013 “Capitol Fourth” show that boasted Barry Manilow and Neil Diamond, Bergeron didn’t hesitate when executive producer Jerry Colbert invited him back: “I enjoyed myself the first time, but I was kind of getting my sea legs. Last time, it was just a pure joy, so I’m really looking forward to July 4th again.”
So is Valli, whose solo successes have included “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You,” “My Eyes Adored You” and the title song of another stage hit brought to the screen, “Grease.”
“I probably would never have enjoyed the success I’ve had, even if my parents had lived in another country,” reasons the 1990 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee (along with the other Four Seasons). “I have the fondest feeling for America that anyone could ever possibly have.”