Producer, actor and singer Seth MacFarlane, known by many as the creator of “Family Guy,” “American Dad” and the “Ted” movies, is in town to perform with the Seattle Symphony on Friday night.

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Seth MacFarlane wears two hats.

Sometimes he’s the voice of Peter Griffin and dozens of other characters on one of the wildly successful cartoon series he has created.

Sometimes he’s Seth MacFarlane, Grammy-nominated jazz singer, admirer of Frank Sinatra and 55-piece orchestras.


Seth McFarlane with Seattle Symphony

8 p.m. Friday, April 8, Benaroya Hall, 200 University St., Seattle; tickets from $35 (206-215-4747 or

On Friday, he’ll be the latter, performing a series of orchestral jazz standards with the Seattle Symphony at Benaroya Hall.

While MacFarlane is best known as the creator of “Family Guy” — a show defined by its controversy and scatological humor — he is also a musician. He says these two passions are easy to reconcile because really, they are both character performances.

“You need to act, you need to tell a story, you need to inhabit the lyric,” MacFarlane said.

“You gotta find a way in; find a way to make the song mean something to you. With an animated character, you are tapping into some of the less noble parts of the human psyche and with a romantic ballad it is the opposite, but the fact that you are telling a story is the same.”

MacFarlane trained his baritone with the help of vocal experts Lee and Sally Sweetland — renowned trainers of Sinatra. In 2011, he released his first studio album, “Music Is Better Than Words,” which would earn him the first of four Grammy nominations.

He went on to release “Holiday For Swing” in 2014, and most recently, “No One Ever Tells You,” which came out last year.

All three albums were conducted and arranged by Joel McNeely, who will conduct Friday evening’s performance. He is also one of the composers on “American Dad!,” another animated series created by MacFarlane.

McNeely’s double duties are just one example of MacFarlane’s ability to intertwine his musical ability with the cartoon kingdom he has built with Peter Griffin on the throne. Unlike other animated series, it’s no surprise to viewers when “Family Guy” incorporates a grand musical number into an episode.

“That is a show that utilizes anywhere from 50- to 80-piece orchestras for one episode,” MacFarlane said. “I’ll go occasionally to ‘Family Guy’ scoring sessions just to hear the orchestra play the score.”

Naturally, MacFarlane’s movies have had similar musical treatment. The title song for “Ted,” “Everybody Needs a Best Friend,” was nominated for an Academy Award for best original song in 2013.

Even with high-caliber award nominations, the voice behind songs like “I Can’t Poop in Strange Places” — a “Family Guy” original — has encountered a fair amount of bewildered critics.

“People will go along with you if you are taking it seriously and doing something of value,” he said. “We take it seriously. We really push ourselves to treat this as though these are recordings that are gonna be around for a long time, so they gotta be as great as they can be.”

So, when MacFarlane takes the stage on Friday, don’t picture an evil baby or a talking dog. Enjoy Seth MacFarlane, string junkie.

“There is nothing like working with an ensemble that is 55 pieces or larger,” he said. “As a vocalist you become a part of a larger organism, it’s less about yourself and more about what is taking place on stage … It becomes as much of a show for me to enjoy as hopefully the audience.”