Performing at the monthly event — which raises money for national organizations dedicated to protecting civil rights, women’s health and environmental protection — Manilow appeared grateful.
“I’m so happy to be home. I’m a New Yorker, I’m from Williamsburg, Brooklyn.” Manilow told the enthusiastic crowd as he took the stage to a standing ovation. “I’m here to promote an album, my love letter to New York. So this week I’m a media slut. I’m all over the place. I’m so happy to be here. There’s no place like New York.”
Before performing “One Voice,” he explained to the audience, “I wrote this in a dream. I don’t know how that happens. I wrote it in a dream and ran to the cassette machine. And I sang it through and the next morning, there it was.”
Manilow performed three different times during the show, about 30 minutes in total. He introduced “Mandy” by joking to the crowd, “This was the very first one that was so successful. We released it in 1821.”
He also performed a medley that included “Can’t Smile Without You,””Copacabana,” “Even Now,” “Weekend in New England,” “Ready to Take a Chance Again,” “It’s a Miracle,” “I Made It Through the Rain,” “Daybreak,” and “I Write the Songs.”
Manilow surprised the crowd by coming out at the end of the show and performing a final medley of “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee” and “Let Freedom Ring.”
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It was the first concert appearance for the 73-year-old musician since he opened up to PEOPLE exclusively about his sexuality and his 39-year relationship with longtime manager husband Garry Kief.
“I’m so private. I always have been,” Manilow told PEOPLE in his April 17 cover story — adding that though he was out to his friends and family, he worried about upsetting his fans. “I thought I would be disappointing them if they knew I was gay. So I never did anything.”
Turns out, the reaction was quite different when fans news of Manilow’s sexuality — and his April 2014 wedding to Keif — first made headlines in 2015. “When they found out that Garry and I were together, they were so happy,” Manilow said. “The reaction was so beautiful — strangers commenting, ‘Great for you!’ I’m just so grateful for it.”
The praise has continued in the wake of Manilow’s PEOPLE cover, with out celebrities including George Takei and Dustin Lance Black as well as friends like Diane Warren praising him for his openness.
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Certainly, the crowd at Town Hall felt the same as they cheered him on through his performance.
Other acts on the bill included Grammy and Tony nominee Vanessa Williams, her Ugly Betty costar Michael Urie, Watch What Happens Live host Andy Cohen, Tony winner LaChanze, comedians Lisa Lampanelli and Caroline Rhea, and two-time Tony winner Chita Rivera (among others).
Manilow, in the meantime, had a lot more of applause coming his way. He’ll take the stage at the Today show’s Citi Concert Series on Thursday before his new album, This Is My Town: Songs of New York, drops Friday.