Ben Sears and Brad Conner
WWI Centenary
American Classics
Smart Set

Ben & Brad - Milestones and "Firsts"

Biography | Firsts

Photo of Ben and Brad1996 - Rediscovered the long-lost Irving Berlin song from 1916, "Santa Claus - A Syncopated Christmas Song." Gave the song its first public performances in 1996, and recorded it for release in 2000. Sears & Conner also wrote an article about the discovery of this song for Sheet Music Magazine, December 1999.

Also rediscovered with "Santa Claus" an unknown Jerome Kern song, "Jazz Christmas Carol" (arrangement of "God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen"), published in 1917. This was given its first public performances by Sears & Conner in 1997 and recorded for release in 2000.

First cabaret act to be featured at Boston's Emerson Majestic Theatre (1997 and 1998) drawing a full house.

First performance of unpublished song "Put Me to the Test" (intended for A Damsel in Distress, 1937) by George & Ira Gershwin (1997); later gave New York City premiere (1999) and European premiere at Oxford University (2008). They later gave the song its recording premier on the CD Fred & Ethel – Great Songs of Astaire and Merman.

Reconstructed and gave first performance of "Yellow Blues" (intended for East is West, 1929) by George & Ira Gershwin, 1997.

First New England performance of "Hi-Ho" (intended for Shall We Dance, 1937) by George & Ira Gershwin (1998).

First performances and recordings of unpublished songs with lyrics by E.Y. Harburg (1997-1998): "Who Do You Kiss Goodnight?" (music by Jay Gorney), "If Every Day Were Valentine's Day" (music by Sammy Fain), and "The Peter Pan of Tin Pan Alley" (music by Harold Arlen).

Gave first concert pairing of romantic and professional colleagues Kay Swift and George Gershwin, "Oh Kay, Oh George" in 1997 for the 1997 Kay Swift Centenary and the 1996-1998 George & Ira Gershwin Centenaries. This was also the only Kay Swift tribute for her centenary year.

Berlin and Gershwin recordings used on the kiosk exhibit in the George & Ira Gershwin Room of the Library of Congress, Washington, DC (1998-present).

First Non-Print Publication Subvention awarded by the Sonneck Society for American Music for CD release Keep On Smiling - Songs by Irving Berlin 1915-1918 (1996).

Many recording premieres of songs by Irving Berlin, George & Ira Gershwin, E.Y. Harburg and Jerome Kern (see below).

First Recordings


on Come On And Hear! (Released 1994)

  • Piano solo version of "Alexander's Ragtime Band"
  • "The Apple Tree and the Bumble Bee"
  • "At the Devil's Ball" (first version)
  • "If All the Girls I Knew Were Like You"
  • "Move Over"
  • "Simple Melody" (complete version)
  • "Spring and Fall"
  • "That's How I Love You"
  • "When It Rains, Sweetheart, When It Rains"

on Keep on Smiling (Released 1996)

  • "Down Where the Jack O'Lanterns Grow"
  • "The Eyes of Youth See the Truth"
  • "I've Got a Sweet Tooth Bothering Me"
  • "Polly, Pretty Polly"
  • "The Sterling Silver Moon"
  • "The Voice of Belgium"
  • "While the Band Played an American Rag"

on Rest You Merry (Released 2000)

  • "Christmas Time Seems Years and Years Away"
  • "Santa Claus - A Syncopated Christmas Carol"

on She's So Beautiful (Released 2001)

  • "Grizzly Bear [piano rag]"
  • "A Little Bit of Everything"
  • "Alice in Wonderland"
  • "But! She's Just a Little Bit Crazy About Her Husband - That's All"
  • "There's Something Nice About the South"
  • "Dance and Grow Thin [piano fox trot]"
  • "Eyes of Youth"
  • "Nobody Knows (and Nobody Seems to Care)"
  • "That Revolutionary Rag"
  • "In Florida Among the Palms"
  • "Rainbow of Girls"

on Everybody Step (Released 2005)

  • "Eight Little Notes"
  • "Take a Little Wife"
  • "At the Court Around the Corner"
  • "Dining Out (In a Cozy Kitchenette Apartment)"
  • "Alice in Wonderland" (1924 version)
  • "The Call of the South"
  • "Behind the Fan"
  • "Mont Martre"
  • "Unlucky in Love"
  • "We'll All Go Voting for Al"
  • "Climbing Up the Scale"
  • "An Interview"


on Delishious - Lyrics by Ira Gershwin (Released 1995)

  • "Blah, Blah, Blah (Russian Version)" (Music by George Gershwin)
  • "Fascination" (Music by Louis Silvers)
  • "For the Life of Me" (Music by Arthur Schwartz)
  • "Hot Hindoo" (Music by Lewis Gensler)
  • "Just to Know You Are Mine" (Music by George Gershwin)
  • "Just Like You" (Music by Paul Lannin)
  • "Rice and Shoes" (with Schuyler Green, music by Vincent Youmans)
  • "When All Your Castles Come Tumbling Down" (Music by Milton Schwarzwald)
  • "You Started Something" (Music by Vincent Youmans)

on Sweet and Low Down - Songs by George Gershwin (Released 1997)

  • "Across the Sea" (B.G. DeSylva & E. Ray Goetz)
  • "Midnight Bells" (Otto Harbach & Oscar Hammerstein II)
  • "Oh, Lady Be Good (with previously unrecorded lyrics)" (Ira Gershwin)
  • "Pepita" (B.G. DeSylva)
  • "That Lost Barbershop Chord" (Ira Gershwin)
  • "You and I (In Old Versailles)" (Jack Green & B.G. DeSylva)

on Rest You Merry

  • "Snow Flakes" (Arthur Jackson & George Gershwin)

on Fred & Ethel – Great Songs of Astaire and Merman

  • "Put Me to the Test" (Desmond Carter & George Gershwin)


on Beyond the Rainbow (Released 1998)

  • "An Extra Little Shilling"
  • "Brother, Just Laugh It Off!"
  • "'Cause You Won't Play House"
  • "Hot Moonlight "
  • "If Every Day Were Valentine's Day"
  • "I've Got a Rainbow Working for Me (early version)"
  • "Let's Forget Tomorrow Tonight"
  • "The Peter Pan of Tin Pan Alley"
  • "Take My Song"
  • "Thank You Columbus"
  • "Who Do You Kiss Goodnight?"


on Rest You Merry

  • "Jazz Christmas Carol"

also on Rest You Merry

  • Piano rag version of "Up on the House Top" (arranged by Brian Dykstra)

Delishious - Lyrics by Ira Gershwin is the only CD newly created and recorded in honor of Ira Gershwin's 1996 centenary.

Opening concert of the Babson Concert Series at the new Sorenson Center for the Performing Arts at Babson College, Wellesley, Massachusetts (1998).

First act to appear live with an in-house audience on MusicAmerica (WGBH-FM, 1994). The success of this performance led to a continuing tradition of in-house audiences for live performances.

"Kaiser Bill" written for Sears & Conner by Richard Weiss (1993).

Original songs written for them David Edgar Walther and Barry Rosenberg.

Compiled and edited data base of the complete lyrics of E.Y. Harburg, with the Harburg Foundation of New York, (started in 1997).

Biography | Firsts | Back to Top