Timothy Graphenreed Dies: ‘The Wiz’ Song Composer Was 68

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Timothy Graphenreed, a longtime musical and dance arranger who composed two numbers for the beloved Broadway musical The Wiz, died March 1 at New York’s Mt. Sinai Hospital. He was 68.

Graphenreed’s death was first reported today by Broadway World. A cause of death was not announced.

Last year Graphenreed completed work on an upcoming album by Broadway star and singer Lillias White. The album, titled Get Happy!, features White’s interpretations of standards, Motown hits, jazz and rock songs, and is described by Vermont’s Old Mill Recording Studio label as the “culmination of a 30-year friendship and professional collaboration between Lillias White and her musical director/accompanist, Timothy Graphenreed.” The album is dedicated to his memory.

Graphenreed provided dance arrangements for Broadway’s Leader of the Pack (1985) and Comin’ Uptown (1979), the latter a short-lived retelling of A Christmas Carol with a Black cast headed by Gregory Hines as Scrooge.

Much more enduring is The Wiz, the 1975 Tony Award-winning musical (and 1978 film) that set The Wizard of Oz in an urban landscape with Black actors portraying Dorothy, the Scarecrow and all the other denizens of L. Frank Baum’s dreamscape.

Chiefly composed by Charlie Smalls, with a book by William F. Brown, The Wiz included several musical numbers by others, including Graphenreed, who wrote, with George Faison, the dance numbers “Emerald City Ballet (Pssst)” and, with Harold Wheeler, “Tornado.” Graphenreed also did the dance arrangements for the musical. (The Luther Vandross composition “Everybody Rejoice/A Brand New Day” was performed in both the Broadway and film versions; the Graphenreed numbers were not included in the film, directed by Sidney Lumet with a cast headed by Diana Ross and Michael Jackson.)

As an accompanist and/or musical arranger, Graphenreed collaborated with performers including White, LaChanze, Jennifer Holliday, Phylicia Rashad, Melba Moore, Valerie Simpson and Nick Ashford, Darlene Love, Morgan Freeman, Ben Vereen and Peobo Bryson, among many others.

Graphenreed also served as musical arranger for numerous corporate clients, and was an adjunct professor at NYU’s Steinhart School of Music and Performing Arts Professionals.

Graphenreed is survived by his life partner David Moore, daughter Traci Graphenreed Crane, and two grandchildren.

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Yesterday was Timothy Graphenreed’s birthday.⠀ We remember him with love.⠀ His talent was limitless – and we at Old Mill Road Recording miss him very, very much.⠀ We cannot wait to share the album we all created together in July 2019. Timothy’s arrangements and piano are unbelievable. ⠀ Here’s a photo from one of our rehearsal sessions: Grammy-Winning Engineer Benjamin J. Arrindell ( @bjasound ), Timothy Graphenreed at the keys, and Tony & Emmy Award Winner Lillias White ( @happylillias ) .⠀ #timothygraphenreed #rip #thewiz #broadway #composer #musicaltheatre #theatre #theater #legacy #newyorkcity #hollywood #artist #actor #singer #singersongwriter #film #movies #thewizlive #soundtrack #musical #producer #lyrics #author

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This article was printed from https://deadline.com/2020/09/timothy-graphenreed-dead-obituary-the-wiz-composer-broadway-1234569138/