Katherine Jenkins’s US hit show replaces live musicians with dead tracks

Katherine Jenkins’s US hit show replaces live musicians with dead tracks


norman lebrecht

February 02, 2014

Received communication:

Katherine Jenkins scores 26 on her debut appearance on 'Dancing with the stars'-767355


Saturday, February 01, 2014 The American Federation of Musicians has confirmed that after 17 hit seasons with Dancing With The Stars, one of the world’s most popular TV programs, the DWTS Big Band has been fired.

ABC/Disney says the group, comprised of 28 talented musicians, singers, arrangers and copyists, will be replaced by pre-existing sound recordings and a “small electronic band” to “attract a younger viewer demographic.”

The Federation is in contact with ABC/Disney executives in an attempt to stop these unjustifiable and unwarranted actions. You can join with us to push back against this latest attack upon the livelihood and integrity of professional musicians. Please email Candice.A.Ashton@abc.com.

Please let her know that you will encourage viewers everywhere to boycott the show, ABC-TV, and The Walt Disney Company if she follows through on her plan to fire the band. The Federation will provide further information as the situation develops. If you are reading this bulletin on Facebook or social media, please share it with your friends immediately.


Now see Update here.


  • Sanda Schuldmann says:

    And why is that? They need to make more profit. I never watched the show but O l know lots of people do. I hope that enough people will be outraged by this decision , stop watching and send their ratings down the WC.

    • Gene Hull says:

      What an absolute shame…canning one of the finest orchestra’s ever on TV, which exposed millions to GOOD MUSIC … including a younger audience. The death of culture always has help.

  • BKM says:

    Singers are musicians, too. That second paragraph should read “instrumentalists, singers…” Get it together, ABC.

  • Stereo says:

    Boycott everything to do with Katherine Jenkins,not difficult if you have musical standards.

    • Anon says:

      But this has absolutely nothing do to with Katherine. She (along with many others) appeared on the show, but a decision about the music on forthcoming series is nothing to do with her; so your suggestion will make no difference at all.

    • James says:

      Surely it can’t have been Jenkins’ idea to get rid of the band, she is a performing musician and I imagine would be able to empathise with the band – it will be the decision of the producers, and it will only succeed in reducing the collective IQ of the audience, as well as the cultural value of the show!

  • Breaking: ABC/Disney seeks greater market share, replaces all executives with holograms.

  • Laurence Glavin says:

    I didn’t see the actual broadcast of “DWTS” a couple of years ago, but during the Jimmy Kimmel show later , he mentioned that the contestants on that night’s “DWTS” danced to “classical music” and segued to video of persons dancing to music from Prokofiev’s “Romeo and Juliet”. There was an actual symphonic musical ensemble on the stage, maybe thirty of forty players and they sounded pretty good. That will never happen again.

    • Emil Archambault says:

      Yes, and then they danced to a “classical” arrangement of Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance. And that was on “Classical week”!

  • Murray Cuthbert says:

    Not fair! Katherine Jenkins performed and danced on the show with a live orchestra. This is a new decision. Disney/ABC are the problem.

  • timwalton3 says:

    USA dumbing down again

    I didn’t think they could sink any lower. They are becoming even more of a laughing stock.

    They can keep KJ. She’s just about on a level with their low standards.

    • Janey says:

      @timwalton3 Ms. Jenkins sells out venues in the UK and flopped in the US. It has become quite tiring to read the constant disparaging of America from those who feel superior for some unknown reason.

      The United States has true world-famous opera singers. Katherine Jenkins is British. As is Il Divo. As is Russell Watson. As are Jonathan and Charlotte. All have flopped in the US, with the exception of some very moderate success by Il Divo. What are you all doing over there? Stop creating these dumbed-down acts and trying to unleash them on the world.

      • timwalton3 says:

        All those you quote are not Opera singers and never will be.

        People in the UK are so gulible to think that they are & the USA and many other countries jump on the band wagon thinking that they might be. I would have thought KJ would fit in perfectly with the dumbed down programmes on US TV etc but apperantly they haven’t been taken in.

        Most Opera lovers & serious music lovers in the UK would love KJ to be exported permanently to anywhere to give us a rest.

        • James says:

          THANK YOU!!! I hate it when people label KJ, Russell Watson, etc as opera singers, when they make an absolute mockery of the genre! None of the singers quoted in the comment to which you replied would last 10 minutes if they tried to sing a full opera! They are classical pop if anything

        • Janey says:

          @timwalton3 You miss the point completely. I am award that they are not opera singers. You suggested we keep Ms. Jenkins since our society is dumbed down, a laughing stock, in fact you said.

          Nevertheless, we have already spoken as a nation regarding Ms. Jenkins and all of her ilk. We don’t want them. They are, in fact, dumbed down singers. We instead embrace true opera singers. Britain has created a generation of fake opera singers and unleashed them on the world. Yet, you now have the gall to suggest it is we who have a dumbed down music society.

          Why do you create these acts. Where are your international opera singers? Our mezzo won your Classical BRIT last year. A Russian has won it. Another American has won it. Ms. Jenkins is your perennial Classical BRIT representative, no ours.

          • Janey says:

            *aware that they are not opera singers.

          • Chris says:

            @Janey these “crossover” acts show two things: 1 how gullible the British public (and other nations it must be said) are and 2. How good Simon Cowell is at his job, whether you loathe him or not. These acts have nothing to do with the high quality artists this country keeps on producing. You ask where they are in the US? At Carnegie Hall, the Lincoln Center and various opera houses all over the US, appearing on a regular basis.

            Also Classical BRIT awards have absolutely nothing to do with classical music and most serious musicians and singers here don’t watch or care about the award, they certainly don’t watch the programme.

            Norman, what are you doing mentioning KJ in the title of this story? Come on, you’re meant to be better than that. If you want to have a real discussion about the dilution of the “musical product” (for want of a better phrase) that these crossover acts cause, then start one! World class talent keeps on being produced in this country. Let’s celebrate that, not bloody Simon Cowell’s work!

          • Janey says:

            @Chris – Yes, I agree. I was too black and white in my comment. I meant only to show the individual who claimed America was dumbed down and deserved Ms. Jenkins that his country had produced her, and others. Ours did not. Ours rejected her and others, despite Simon Cowell’s overwhelming presence here.

            I mean no disrespect to British opera singers. I have seen Sarah Connelly numerous times, and find her one of the greatest there is. I have also loved Susan Bullock in the past. Top notch, indeed.

  • Why is it every marketing department in the country has decided that we all must chase the “younger demographic”? Classical music organizations, churches, entertainment organizations and advertisers chase the young like vampires after the last drop of blood. People over 25 are people too.

    • abramovic says:

      Agree entirely. Unfortunately, attracting young people is regarded as universally good and applied mindlessly to almost every endeavour.

      Young people are not going to attend classical concerts in huge numbers, and never have. Energy and resources should be aimed at a demographic that stands a chance of success.

      I’m not saying that young people should never be exposed to classical music, nor am I saying that interest in the genre couldn’t be better, but they can smell patronising gestures a mile away.

    • Chris Walsh says:

      “People over 25 are people too.”

      And, more importantly from an advertiser’s point of view, we have more disposable income than the young. Here’s a shotgun, there’s your foot.

      • Alison says:

        “and the hall full of very appreciative under-25s.”

        Good news. Thank you.

        I don’t think anyone really believes that the young are universally stupid; we wouldn’t have youth orchestras otherwise. Thinks could be better though – in some schools and on TV.

        Still good news though.

  • Tommy says:

    Anyone who knows me will be shocked at this attempt to defend Ms Jenkins (who annoys me very much indeed).

    But let’s be fair here: There have been 17 seasons of Dancing With The Stars in the USA and KJ was in only one of them (and she came second). Dozens and dozens of other ‘celebrities’ have taken part since the series launched in 2005. Singling her out in the headline is simple mischief.

  • In context, it sounds like they’re replacing the 28 piece big band with one more like the size of the Strictly band on the equivalent show here.

  • Michele says:

    This makes me sad. I only watched one season, but I watched every episode with my mother. It was our thing. She died about a week ago.

    Won’t be watching it any more.

  • Dana Birch says:

    I have watched this show from season one. The band and the singers are amazing they are as much of the show as the dancers. If they are replaced I may need to make a show replacement.

  • Joe Pinner says:

    Pandering to the “younger demographic” these days continues to lower the quality of life in so many ways from appreciation of the finer, decent things in life to the use of decent, understandable communication. The bar continues to be lowered and the fruits will continue to spoil as evidenced by the pitiful educational rating we have, as compared to so much of the world that ranks so far above us! If anything, we should be strongly demanding our youth (and in some cases their parents) be taught social and economic skills that will enable them to achieve fuller and more rewarding lives. To be independent rather than dependent. The band on DWTS was so flexible as to be unbelievable in their performances which added so much to the program in my opinion, which of course I value highly! Dumb decision if carried forth. But, what else is new? See “reality”!

  • Mike Ryal says:

    As in all showbusiness circles, it is run by accountants, nothing to do with the younger demographic. Cut corners wherever possible.

  • Cat G says:

    Leave the pre recorded music for the younger demographic on Pop Idol etc

    and recognize that first it’s unjust to rob these artists and audiences of live music and also that EVERYTHING seems to be appealing to the younger audiences these days – lets leave something for the rest of us….

  • John Hooper says:

    Strictly come Dancing May be next

  • Karen Halliday says:

    Do they not appreciate the success of the show ‘is’ the fabulous live band & stunning vocals, mark my words as we all watch the viewers ratings drop! How to kill a successful show!!!

    A classic case of ‘ You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone!’.

  • Ayana Haviv says:

    Rather than calling for a boycott of ABC/Disney, which actually employs many studio & live players and singers on other shows, the LA professional singers’ community has started this petition to ask ABC/Disney to bring back the band:


    It encourages fans not to stand for the canned, watered-down “electronic band” to replace the live players and singers that have helped to make the show successful for 17 seasons. We hope you’ll sign.

  • If this wasn’t business, I’d be surprised. But I’m not.

  • Beth Woods says:

    It’s BULL .. look at all the jobs you’re cutting .. and in this economy .. should be ashamed !

  • Cindy says:

    That sucks! Will watch something else! Have watched every season, but maybe time for something new.

  • Gloria says:

    It depends on the recording artist. I will continue to watch DWTS.

  • Eric says:

    I’ve never watched stumbling with the morons, never will.

    Nothing on broadcast TV is worth my time. Only a few cable or PBS channel shows if that.

    Ironic that the same “younger demographic” they are trying to attract is the same constantly ripping free stuff from youtube, & the other streaming sites and not willing to pay their share.

    I feel for the artists losing their positions on the show!

  • Carol says:

    Nothing takes the place of live music. A recording, no matter how good, cannot replace the flexibility of professional musicians and a director who can add so much to a performance. Surely firing all these talented artists is not the answer for a show that has enjoyed several years of popularity.

  • Lori McNabb says:

    Dancing to live Big Band music is what makes dancing special…… Taped music and the show is what? I am a ballroom dancer and dancing to live band music is so much better than taped music……

  • Cecilia A Sparks says:

    I could understand replacing an orchestra if you couldn’t find the talent, but America is filled with fantastic musicians/singers. I have no doubt DWTS can afford the orchestra as well. I’m sure this show has a huge audience amongst the older crowd that they’ll lose if they take such talent away, and expect to offset it with a younger crowd.

  • toscaskiss32 says:

    This is a truly appalling decision! When I first began watching the show, I found it had a fairly high ‘cheezy’ factor, but the thing that really got my attention and kept me watching was the fact that they had this glorious, full band and live singers. Then I became aware that it was directed by Maestro Harold Wheeler, and became extremely impressed and excited. I’m not even a musician, but I was well aware of his extensive, impressive career on Broadway, dating from 1968, and including some of the best shows from that time forward (the original PROMISES, PROMISES; THE WIZ; Lena Horne’s legendary Broadway concert run; DREAMGIRLS; THE LIFE; SIDE SHOW; SWING!; THE FULL MONTY; HAIRSPRAY; and DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS, among many others). When friends would mock me for getting into DWTS, I’d tell them about this band, and demand they check it out. Everyone was impressed by that, and most also became fans of the show.

    Do the powers-that-be at ABC, who made this decision have any idea what a precious commodity and great selling point they have in this orchestra and its leader? It was and is unusual in contemporary television, having this great ensemble playing and singing live music; that’s a HUGE part of what has made this show special. It’s also been rare and fantastic, having the featured guest stars and guest dance performances, making wonderful use of the orchestra. THESE are among the primary things that have made this show special, and ABC/Disney is preparing to throw that all away. (As to “attract[ing] a younger viewer demographic,” there are probably some good ways to do that, but this is not one of them, .especially if you lose a good deal of your current, core audience)

    If they go forward with this plan, I will definitely no longer watch the show, and will encourage everyone I know to do the same. As a dancer, I know it’s difficult to stand up to power, putting your career on the line, but I really hope the dancers (many of them now stars of a sort in their own right) will stand up against this, as well as the judges. I would also encourage any “star” celebrities, who might be candidates to appear on DWTS, either as contestants or guests, to refuse to take part if this plan takes effect. Everyone feel free to let any potential contestants or guests (the higher profile the better, I suppose) that they should refuse to appear on the show, and be upfront and loud about why. Perhaps some star power, from people who appreciate the value of this essential component of the show, protesting this decision, will carry some persuasive weight. I will gain some respect for celebrities who do this, and lose some for those who do not. No, this is not apartheid, fascism, poverty, environmental destruction, or anything on the order of problems like those, but it is a stupid, unnecessary decision.