Crystal Lake native returns home to perform ‘What the World Needs Now’

Singer Megon McDonough takes ‘deep dive’ into music of Bacharach and David at Raue Center for the Arts

Megon McDonough performs her show "Dedicated to the Ones I Love."

Megon McDonough saw her first movie as a young child at the Crystal Lake theater now known as the Raue Center for the Arts.

In October, she will return to that theater as a nationally acclaimed singer.

“When I play there, I’m transported in time,” said McDonough, who now lives in Huntley and has been performing folk, pop and jazz music across the country for more than four decades.

McDonough will join legendary jazz pianist Fred Simon and bassist Jon Paul for “What the World Needs Now,” featuring the hits of composer Burt Bacharach and lyricist Hal David.

The performance will take place at 3 p.m. Oct. 22 at the Raue, 26 N. Williams St. Tickets cost from $30 to $40, or $21 to $28 for RaueNOW members, and are available at

McDonough has played at the Raue several times before and always is on the theater’s list of potential artists to bring in, said Richard Kuranda, Raue Center CEO and founding artistic director of Williams Street Repertory, the center’s in-house professional theater company.

“She is such a hometown hero,” Kuranda said. “She has matured into such an incredible artist. I think the audience will really connect with her, and Burt’s music is always fun, always a good time.”

The seventh of nine children born to the late Jim and Jane McDonough in Crystal Lake, McDonough grew up listening to the very music she now performs. Her parents were involved in area theater.

“It was magical,” McDonough said of her youth. “We were always encouraged to be creative and sing, and it was a very active household back in the day. … Singing and performing got me a lot of attention, so I parlayed that into a career.”

McDonough wrote her first song at age 11, won a singing competition through WLS radio when she was 14 and secured a record contract as a folk singer. She released four albums between 1972 and 1974, and now has a dozen solo albums to her name.

Upon moving to California at age 17, she landed on tour with John Denver, Steve Martin, Harry Chapin and others.

“I say I ran away from home with my mother’s permission,” she said.

Megon later become one of the inaugural members of The Four Bitchin’ Babes, touring with them from 1990 through 2001.

She always has been a fan of the duo of Bacharach and David, who wrote for some of the biggest names in the recording industry, including Dionne Warwick, Tom Jones, Gene Pitney, Bobby Vinton and Lou Johnson.

So she came up with the idea of performing a sort of tribute show.

“A lot of people knew me as a folk singer, and this is really a chance to really branch out and sing songs that so many of us grew up with.”

She asked Simon and Paul to join her, and the two agreed.

“We just said, ‘Hey, let’s get together and run through some songs,’ and it was easy,” McDonough said. “That’s always an indicator. It was so easy. … I feel like I’m coming in with the A-Team.”

The three first performed the show at Studio5 in Evanston. Generations of fans attended, and the audience sang along.

“You just have those shows where it’s just all the stars align. … It took off,” McDonough said. “People were like, ‘We love this show. We’d love to see more of it.’

“Certainly, it’s my demographic, but also young people seem to enjoy it, too. People bring their grandkids to it, and I don’t think Burt Bacharach and Hal David music will ever go out of style. It’s classic. It’s iconic.”

The show features some of Bacharach’s most famous songs, such as “I Say A Little Prayer,” “Walk On By,” “Close To You,” “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on my Head,” “What The World Needs Now,” “Alfie,” “The Look of Love” and “I’ll Never Fall In Love Again.”

Bacharach and David’s collaboration began in 1957, and their song “The Story of My Life” made its mark on the U.S. country music charts a year later.

Lou Johnson released the first version of the duo’s hit “(There’s) Always Something There to Remind Me.” “Walk on By” became one of Warwick’s classic numbers, while Dusty Springfield gained notoriety with their songs “Do You Know the Way to San Jose?” and “Wishin’ and Hopin.’”

All of their songs are uplifting, said McDonough, who will perform some of her own music in the second half of her Raue performance.

“That’s what I hope people come away with,” she said. “Life is hard, and it’s an evening of sort of leaving everything outside the theater and coming in and going back to maybe a simpler time. Certainly, for me, it was a simpler time, and it’s just a deep dive into music.”

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