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Randy Newman

NEWMAN, RANDY (1943– ), U.S. singer-songwriter. He was born Randall Stuart Newman to internist Irving George Newman and secretary Adele (née Fox) in New Orleans, Louisiana. His parents were assimilated Jews, and his father considered himself an atheist. He was a nephew of *Alfred, Emil, and Lionel Newman and a cousin of David and Thomas Newman, all film composers. In 1948, Irving Newman moved his family to Los Angeles. Newman began playing the piano at the age of six. He developed an appreciation for the blues when he visited with his mother's Jewish family in New Orleans, but was also affected by the racism and antisemitism of the South. At 16, he worked as a songwriter for Metric Music, and then studied music composition at UCLA. In 1967, he went on to work as a session arranger at Warner Bros. Newman's first two albums were commercial flops, despite positive reviews for his second album, 12 Songs. Over the years his hits included Sail Away (1972), which contained "You Can Leave Your Hat On"; Little Criminals (1977), which featured his breakout hit "Short People"; and Trouble in Paradise (1983), which launched his commercial anthem, "I Love L.A." Newman then turned to the family business: composing songs for feature films. His first score was for Ragtime (1981), followed by such films as The Natural (1984), Awakenings (1990), and Toy Story (1995). In 1995, he released a musical version of Faust, which again received critical acclaim but did not meet with any commercial success. Nominated for 14 Academy Awards, Newman won the Oscar for the Monsters, Inc. song "If I Didn't Have You" in 2001.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.