Barry Manilow says he never considered himself a singer. "I still don't," he notes. "I consider myself a communicator. That's all I ever really wanted to do -- I wanted to communicate with strangers. That really is my goal."
He's done that well during the 39 years since his self-titled debut album was released. Manilow has sold more than 80 million records and scored 10 Top 10 hits, including chart-topper such as "Mandy," "I Write the Songs" and "Looks Like We Made It." He was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2002 and the Hit Parade Hall of Fame in 2009.
And while he'll be the first to acknowledge he's not a player in the contemporary hit parade, he's still notched five Top 10 albums during the past six years -- including last year's "15 Minutes," his first set of original material in a decade, which also hit No. 1 on Billboard's Internet chart.
"After all of the horrible reviews and put-downs over the years, I feel, what's the word...vindicated!" says Manilow, 68, who's next release will be a live album from a 2011 concert in London. "I feel like I wasn't crazy all these years for continuing to stand up for the music I believe in. When I see my name up there I say, 'Of course there's an audience out there that wants to hear this.'
"It's what I've always wanted to believe. And vindicated is the word -- or maybe just grateful."
Barry Manilow performs at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, March 9 and 10, at the Fox Theatre, 2211 Woodward Ave., Detroit. Tickets are $24.99-$144.99. Call 313-471-6611 or visit www.olympiaentertainment.com.