Johnny Mathis is “Coming Home” to San Francisco July 2nd and 3rd

by Michael P. Coleman

In a business that is as mercurial as the recording industry, not many artists get to celebrate their 60th anniversary, as Johnny Mathis will next year.  With millions of records sold worldwide, his gorgeous ballads and powerful, immediately recognizable tenor have made him one the most successful recording artists of all time.  Mathis is coming home to the Bay area for two shows with the San Francisco Symphony, July 2 and 3 at 7:30pm.   

Mathis, 79, and I chatted recently about what those lucky enough to see him will experience.  For the record, his speaking voice is as elegant and beautiful as his singing is if you can believe that!  

I try to run through as many of the hitsongs that Ive had over the years as I can,Mathis shared.  I also love to find songs that I dont do ordinarily because we have such a large orchestra [in San Francisco], so I like to feature the orchestra as much as I can.  There are a lot of people that come to many of my shows quite often, so I also like to change a few of the songs up for them.” 

Theres one song that I always do that was written by a local guy from San Francisco named Michael Moore,Mathis continued.  I recorded it quite a few years ago because it mentions a lot of the areas in the Bay area, and it has a big lovely orchestral arrangement.  Its called Yellow Roses On Her Gown, and its quite a wonderful song.” 

Check out Mathis’ “Yellow Roses On Her Gown

Mathis also promised to include a few songs written by Thom Bell, one of the architects behind the 1970s Philly International sound.   One of those songs, Im Coming Home, was written expressly for Mathis, and would be a surefire hit on stage in the singers home town. 

Tommy is a great guy,Mathis shared of Bell.  I dont see him as often as Id like to, but he wrote so many wonderful songs and he orchestrated them and some of the orchestrations are better than the actual songs!  Theyre really fantastic.  I love his music, so I sing two or three songs that he wrote during the show.” 

Of course, Mathis says fans at his San Francisco shows will also hear many of the hits that weve loved from him over the years, including Wonderful, Wonderful, Its Not For Me To Say, Mistyand other favorites that have cemented the crooners place in music history.  If youve never experienced the legend on stage, his July 2 and 3 performances are an opportunity to experience a performer still at the top of his game after almost six decades, in a world-class venue. 

Im really excited about those two shows,Mathis said.  San Francisco is my home town, and Symphony Hall is just perfect for my kind of music.  If you can make it, please do I think youre going to love it!” 

Chances are Mathis is right. 

Go to to purchase tickets to Mathis’ July 2 and 3 shows.  Tickets start at only $20. 


Look to in the coming weeks for more of my EXCLUSIVE conversation with Johnny Mathis!  He told me stories from his almost sixty years in the business, all about his favorite collaborators, working with other legends like Quincy Jones and Mahalia Jackson, and his connection to Christmas music.  He also told me about how an offer to participate in the Olympic trials almost sidelined his singing career (!), he gave me the scoop on his upcoming project with the legendary Clive Davis, and he told me about his connection to Bruno Mars! 


Michael P. Coleman is a Sacramento-based freelance writer.  Connect with him at email him at, or follow him on Twitter:  @ColemanMichaelP