About Our People
Founder and Exectutive Director Emeritus
Donald Smith, the founder and late executive director of The Mabel Mercer Foundation, was actively involved with the world of cabaret for over forty years. The Oakland Tribune described him as “the man who has done more than anyone else to keep cabaret alive.”
For more than two decades, Donald worked closely with his great friend Mabel and arranged for her performance seasons in (among other locations) New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. He also organized her dramatic, triumphal return to her native England after a forty-one year absence. Additionally, Mr. Smith has managed, promoted, and nurtured the careers of the acclaimed Andrea Marcovicci, Michael Feinstein, and Steve Ross. In one capacity or another, he has also represented (among many others) Julie Wilson, Margaret Whiting, KT Sullivan, Craig Rubano, Jeff Harnar, and Sylvia Syms.
It was Donald Smith who, in 1981, brought cabaret back to The Oak Room of New York’s legendary Algonquin Hotel; for ten years, he produced and promoted every one of their cabaret engagements. For five years, Mr. Smith was Artistic Director of the hugely successful “Cabaret Comes to Carnegie” series at Weill Recital Hall, as well as Executive Producer of the popular “Cabaret at The Russian Tea Room.” He was artistic consultant and talent producer for the WNYC radio series, “New York Cabaret Nights” and he booked talent for London’s celebrated Pizza On the Park for more than two decades. In 1985, Mr. Smith’s efforts led to the formation of the not-for-profit arts organization, The Mabel Mercer Foundation, to both perpetuate the memory of its extraordinary namesake and to give an ongoing visibility to the fragile and endangered world of cabaret. “This music is a part of America’s great heritage,” he proclaimed. “It must be heard!”
KT has appeared in every New York Cabaret Convention since the inaugural event in 1989 at The Town Hall. Donald discovered her in a revue of the songs of Bart Howard (Mabel Mercer’s first pianist in the US and composer of Fly Me to the Moon) in 1988, directed by Buddy Barnes, a favorite accompanist of Mabel Mercer. KT starred annually at the Oak Room of New York’s Algonquin Hotel, and also at the Neue Galerie’s Café Sabarsky on Fifth Avenue. She appeared at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC with Brian Stokes Mitchell in “Broadway Today,” and is a regular at London’s newest cabaret Crazy Coqs. KT has headlined at Carnegie Hall, Town Hall, and The Caramoor Festival. She has also performed at The Spoleto Festival, The New York Historical Society, La Nouvelle Eve in Paris, The Chichester Festival in the U.K., and The Adelaide Festival in Australia. She also appeared as a guest star on Garrison Keillor’s “Prairie Home Companion.” KT has seven albums on the DRG label, including “Crazy World” (voted #1 in the vocals category of Tower Records’ Pulse Magazine), and “Live From Rainbow and Stars: The Songs of Bart Howard,” which won Backstage magazine’s Bistro Award. She was twice named one of the top 100 Irish Americans by Irish America magazine. On that note, KT is proud to be married to outstanding Irish American Steve Downey, President of the New York Browning Society.
Rick Meadows has been involved with the Mabel Mercer Foundation for seventeen years, working closely with founder Donald Smith. In his tenure Rick has stage managed sixteen New York Cabaret Conventions as well as conventions in San Francisco, Chicago, Philadelphia, Palm Springs, and London. As a West Virginia music student (vocal major / piano minor) he graduated magna cum laude. Highlights from his twenty years as a performer include two Carnegie Hall appearances, performances at New York State Theater Lincoln Center, three shows at Papermill Playhouse, three Drama League Galas (Pierre Hotel), and several tours. In addition to his post as the foundation’s managing director he’s worked for fifteen years running behind the scenes on the Broadway production of “Chicago.”
Alyce Finell, Bill Lanese
Board of Trustees
Charles S. Bullock, John E. Donnelly, Adela & Larry Elow, Sanford Fisher, Carol Schiro Greenwald Ph.D, Frances Hill, Peter Leavy, Susan D. Milmoe, Howard L. Morgan, Robert M. Safron
David Alpern, Ann Hampton Callaway, Ron Cohn, Dennis Corrado, Frank Dain, John Fricke, Robert Gardiner, Eric Michael Gillett, Jeff Harnar, Mark Hummel, Ruth Leon, Andrea Marcovicci, Ken Price, Carol Woods