New Fairfield CT. 'Singing Policeman' at 9/11 ceremony
NEW FAIRFIELD, CT -- If he had turned left instead of right on Sept. 11, 2001, Danny Rodriguez said, he probably wouldn't be alive today.
Dubbed the "Singing Policeman" for his inspirational singing, Rodriguez headlined the town's 9/11 memorial ceremony, which also featured a prayer service and the dedication of a brass and granite memorial that includes the names of three people with ties to New Fairfield -- Christopher Blackwell, Candace Williams and Robert Higley -- who perished as the result of the terrorist attacks that day.
"It doesn't get any easier," said Don Blackwell, whose son was one of 343 New York City firefighters, EMTs and paramedics killed when the twin towers collapsed.Gesturing to the plaque, Blackwell said, "People just talk to me about it, and I get all choked up." Money for the memorial came from anonymous donations from about 50 New Fairfield residents, former state Rep. Mary Ann Carson said.
Standing before a giant American flag under threatening skies that he joked "looked like a Cecil B. DeMille movie," Rodriguez drew sustained applause after each of his songs, which he dedicated to those who died in the attacks and members of the military serving on the front lines of the war against terror.
Between the numbers, Rodriguez spoke movingly of his experiences on Sept. 11 and afterward, when his fame increased as a result of his performances at the 2002 Winter Olympics, the PBS Memorial Day concert in Washington, the 2004 Republican National Convention and other high-profile events.
Calling Sept. 11, "Pearl Harbor for our generation," First Selectman John Hodge said he would like to see it eventually transformed into a day of recognition for all first responders.
"They knew what they were in for," he said, yet the firefighters and police officers who rushed into the towers saved thousands of other lives by their sacrifice.
Kiwi voice soars at 9/11 memorial service
JOINED IN SONG: Marla Rodriguez performed The Star-Spangled Banner at the former site of the World Trade Center in New York while her husband, Daniel, sang the national anthem at a 9/11 memorial service at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii at the same time.
Sept. 2012: Arts Around Town
Allentown Community Concert Association marks 85th anniversary with world tenors
Georgia Chomicky knew exactly what she wanted for her music organization’s 85th anniversary season series, and she wanted to kick it off with a gala opening for her 1,000-plus patrons in a night to remember. Her programming efforts are sure to be met with heartfelt thanks on Sept. 21 at 7:30 p.m., when the curtain rises at Parkland High School for three world tenors accompanied by the country’s oldest civilian concert band.
Chomicky, who heads the Allentown Community Concert Association, will take the stage to personally greet her audience and run down the entertainment slated through April 2013: Benny Goodman Tribute “The King of Swing” on Oct. 19; The Dallas Brass on Nov. 16; Forever Irish with Andy Cooney on March 8, and the Philadelphia Organ Quartet on April 19.
May 2012: Music sparks patriotism
Former New York City police officer Daniel Rodriguez performs “Bring Him Home”
Despite his lighthearted comments, Rodriguez was serious about honoring America's heroes during the special concert at Hobart Arena, in which he performed with the U.S. Air Force Band of Flight. The event was dedicated to all the safety responders and armed forces who have served and continue to serve the nation, as well as victims of the
"I am honored, humbled and moved honestly to be here playing with the band..." said Rodriguez, who's known as "The Singing Policeman" for his dynamic performances. "Thank you, Troy, for remembering our first responders and all those who sacrificed themselves on that day."
Hosted by the Miami Valley Veterans Museum, the 7 p.m. concert featured patriotic selections including "America the Beautiful," "The Stars and Stripes Forever" and "God Bless America."
The audience was brought to its feet when Rodriguez was introduced a few songs into the show.
"He comforted us in the days, weeks, months and years after (9/11) with his music," Mench said. Rodriguez performed for memorial events and had several TV appearances.
Sept. 11, 2001, is one of several days in American history that will never be forgotten, said master of ceremonies Frank Beeson, publisher of I-75 Newspaper group including the Troy Daily News.
Those other moments in time include the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the release of Iranian hostages following Ronald Reagan's inauguration and the Challenger accident. Mayor Michael Beamish thanked all those who made the concert possible and helped in preserving and
"Troy is special because of many partnerships," he said. Sponsors included The Troy Foundation, I-75 Newspapers, the city of Troy, Hobart Arena and Hobart Institute of Welding Technology, among many others.
Scott Mazzulla, director of planning and development of Hobart Institute of Welding Technology, paid tribute to the World Trade Center artifact that will proudly be displayed in the Miami Valley Veterans Museum. The piece was dedicated earlier in the weekend. "I can tell you I spent a lot of time with this piece. It touches you. It moves you," he said. Stephen Larck, president of the museum, said Sunday's program served as a reminder that Americans must not forget the price others have paid for our freedom.
"Today we're here to honor and celebrate these heroes," Larck said, adding that the audience should leave with "a renewed sense of pride and patriotism."
Watch on Youtube:"An American Hymn" Troy Ohio 2012 with USAF Band of Flight
2011: Patriotism's new face 10 years after 9/11
"I want to be an ambassador to show that positive things rose out of the ashes.
We survived. We thrive, and we are spiritually still alive."
2011: Broadway Marks 9/11 Anniversary With Special Performance
NY theater community pays tribute to the firefighters & police officers who lost their lives that day
'Singing policeman' adds Lodi to list of places uplifted
By Tony Sauro, Record Staff Writer, February 15, 2010
Daniel Rodriguez was a singer long before he became a policeman. It's an important distinction.
Rodriguez, widely known as the "singing policeman" after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist strikes on America, actually was a classically trained vocalist who'd become a New York City cop partly because he couldn't get a regular opera or Broadway gig. "Hey, I had to feed my family," he said.
Which doesn't mean he's dissociated himself from the crucial role he played in calming - even inspiring - people in the fearfully uncertain aftermath of 9/11.
He sang "The Star Spangled Banner" and "God Bless America" at countless events, for three presidents and two princes, on late-night TV and at the Rose Parade and myriad charitable events - becoming closely identified with the 9/11 recovery.
"It had an amazing impact emotionally and negatively," said Rodriguez, 45, whose life was saved when he took a left turn that fateful day. "It's been extremely more positive than negative. The really positive thing is we came out of it and continue to live positively. We rose from the tragedy."
It's still a source of sobering inspiration as Rodriguez - now an ex-cop - pursues a full-time singing career.
"I'm seeing some amazing, beautiful places," said the bell canto tenor, whose first national tour is taking him to 107 American communities. "Right now, I'm looking at beautiful skylines of mountains. A majestic view.
"This has opened my heart to places and venues that don't ever get the caliber of show we're putting on. I'm trying to give them as much as I can."
He was calling from Bullhead City, Ariz. He performs tonight at Lodi's Hutchins Street Square.
Rodriguez still has a major role at New York's Metropolitan Opera House or on Broadway on his to-achieve list.
On tour, he sings a varied repertoire, sharing the stage with his wife, New Zealand-born Marla Kavanaugh, and her twin sister, Marissa - soprano vocalists who've recorded an album ("Songbirds") on which Rodriguez is the executive producer - and New York pianist Jesse Lynch.
"I tell a story that has as much to do with the 'singing policeman' - before and after 9/11," Rodriguez said of his two-hour show. "The story before that is basically about day-to-day growing up in a house, singing with my mother and father."
That story began in a musical Brooklyn, N.Y., home. Inspired by his Puerto Rican-born parents, Enrico Caruso, Mario Lanza and a high school drama teacher (Elliott Dorfman), he also took demanding private lessons for 10 years, sang in school groups and made his Carnegie Hall debut at 17 with Manhattan's Youth Repertory Company.
At 20, after attending Brooklyn's Kingsborough Community College, he "started a family and had to go out and get a real job."
After four or five years of "trying to find work and being miserable" at a variety of jobs (cook, caterer, taxi driver), he became a post office mail handler and started singing with a piano-playing friend anywhere possible - churches, nightclubs, cocktail lounges.
He was doing "anything I could to get hired," performing tunes by Lanza, Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald, and other pop vocalists in his self-produced "Broadway Magic" show.
Still frustrated, he became a police officer in 1994 - he'd passed police and firefighter tests while unemployed - singing at his own graduation. During his 10 years on duty, he patrolled the Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, district near south Manhattan and was one of four official NYPD national anthem singers.
He was rejected in a Metropolitan Opera tryout but later studied opera for 18 months at Spanish tenor Placido Domingo's institute in Washington.
Rodriguez was off duty and heading across the Verazzano-Narrows Bridge from Brooklyn to Staten Island the morning of Sept. 11, 2001. He flashed his badge and pulled into a caravan of unmarked police cruisers and first responders. They wound up rushing through the Holland Tunnel to the Twin Towers in lower Manhattan.
Instead of turning right - two blocks north of Ground Zero - he turned left, heading to police headquarters for instructions.
"That decision saved my life," he said.
Next thing he knew, he was flying in a chopper to "A Prayer for America," a Sept. 23, 2001, memorial at Yankee Stadium, where he sang "God Bless America." The recording (along with those of Ronan Tynan and Kate Smith) still is played during the seventh inning of Yankees baseball games.
"I remember how the world became a small place in the days after 9/11," said Rodriguez, who's now collecting funds for Haitian earthquake relief. "That unification and global spirituality is what we try to perpetuate and make happen in our show."
Rodriguez, who's recorded three albums and performed at venues as disparate as the Indianapolis 500, Carnegie Hall, West Point, Jay Leno's "Tonight Show" and Glendale's Crystal Cathedral, considers music a ministry and gets lots of thankful e-mails after his music is heard.
A guy who "didn't do auditions," he had to pay his own way to Nashville, Tenn., to try out for a Live on stage, Inc. tour. After years of limos and private jets, he was humbled.
"My wife said, 'Hey, big guy, you know better than that. Get out there,' " Rodriguez said with a laugh. He wound up with the longest tour (including Lodi) ever booked by the company.
Rodriguez seemed amused - but re-energized - by the "nice novelty" that he's gone from the jet-setting of symphony performances and post-9/11 visibility to driving himself around the country.
"We're almost halfway through," said Rodriguez, whose 13-month-old daughter is touring with him. "It's the first time being in city after city, day after day, being in a van with a U-Haul and your family in tow. It's been absolutely liberating. I'm having an amazing time.
"It really gives you a sense of true freedom. It's like (this) is what I've always been meant to do. With every fiber of my being. It's an amazing experience."
Originating a role on Broadway and singing opera in an "A" house ("like San Francisco; the Met's not necessarily my crown jewel") remain on his A-list. He doesn't subscribe to the either-or axiom about Broadway and opera vocalists.
"Who says I can't do both?" said Rodriguez. "My voice is just getting to the point where I can trust it all the time. It's better than ever. I've started pushing my career into my direction. Before, I was lax and I'd follow where I was led. I'm now leading myself ... and trying to do things God has in store for me."
Whether it's opera, Broadway or touring in a van.
"If those come for me, it's fine," Rodriguez said. "I just want to continue doing what I'm doing - make music, make a difference and make people happy for the rest of my life.
"I can't do any more but teach young people to carry on the ideal of being positive and spiritual in everything you do. You're only limited by the limitations you put on yourself."
2010: US Singing Sensation a Coup for Queenstown’s Festival
2009: Singing A Dream
Daniel Rodriguez Tells His Story Of Faith, Family And His Life's Journey In Music
2008: Former NYC Officer Found Mission in Singing
CNN LIVE TODAY Interview by Bill Hemmer Interview of Daniel Rodriguez,
"Singing Cop" Aired December 14, 2001 - 10:24 ET
BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: You may recognize this voice, heard right here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DANIEL RODRIGUEZ, POLICE OFFICER, NEW YORK POLICE DEPARTMENT
(singing): -- to the prairies, to the oceans, white with foam, God bless America, my home, sweet home --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HEMMER: Some great pipes. Daniel Rodriguez, a New York City police officer. His voice has become a powerful symbol of strength and hope for New Yorkers, and now the "Singing Cop," as he is called, has a new CD and his rendition of "God Bless America" is out, one of the two tunes on there. Daniel Rodriguez is live with us from New York City. Officer, good morning to you.
RODRIGUEZ: Good morning.
HEMMER: Congratulations. I've seen you everywhere. World Series, you've got a recording contract, you got a CD. How does it feel to be a singing symbol for so many New Yorkers?
RODRIGUEZ: It feels great to be able to do something that helps the healing process and helps comfort those who have had losses.
HEMMER: What kind of reaction have you gotten?
RODRIGUEZ: Everything very, very positive. Families of those who I've done memorial services for have come to me, and written me -- wrote letters to me about that they've gotten some comfort from my singing at the memorial masses.
HEMMER: What have your fellow officers told you, Daniel?
RODRIGUEZ: Well, I've gotten a lot of respect. In the beginning, I got a lot of razing from the guys, but I think now they've realized that, you know, I'm not just -- I've been singing all my life, so it's something that I take very, very seriously, and they know that what I'm doing, I do as a calling, more than just to sing.
HEMMER: We'd be remiss if we didn't point out the proceeds from the sales of your CD go where, Daniel?
RODRIGUEZ: To the Twin Towers Fund. All proceeds go to the Twin Towers Fund.
HEMMER: How does it make you feel to contribute like that?
RODRIGUEZ: Feels great to be a part of something so wonderful. The city needs a lot of healing, and a lot of help and I'm a small cog in the big machine, but I'm doing my part.
HEMMER: You've come front and center with a lot of big names, too, including the mayor. He does an introduction on your CD. We shall listen to that, quickly, here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUDOLPH GIULIANI, MAYOR OF NEW YORK CITY: While the storm clouds gather, far across the sea, let us swear allegiance to a land that's free. Let us all be grateful, for a land so fair, as we raise our voices in a solemn prayer. (END VIDEO CLIP)
HEMMER: The mayor, reciting the words of Irving Berlin. You chose two songs, tell us why.
RODRIGUEZ: Well, the "God Bless America," I thought, was -- has become an anthem for 9-11, and, like it says in the description, it's a prayer. After 9-11, it took that meaning. The second song was "We Will Go On." That was written by Joe Mardin. And, also, a beautiful, beautiful song that kind of depicts what we're going through, and how we need to have faith, and need to move forward.
HEMMER: On a lighter note, I heard you met Placido Domingo and asked him for an audition. Is that true?
HEMMER: What did he say?
RODRIGUEZ: I auditioned for Placido Domingo at the Metropolitan Opera, and he has invited me to come to Washington to study with the Washington Opera Company and himself.
HEMMER: Really? What was his review? What did he say about your voice?
RODRIGUEZ: He said I had a great voice. There were a couple of things that he'd like to see improved, but he said, overall, I had a wonderful instrument and thinks that he can do something with me in the opera realm.
HEMMER: Hey, Daniel, World Series, Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree lighting, Tony Bennett, a lot more. Describe to me what this experience has been like for you.
RODRIGUEZ: Its been a great ride. It has been -- it has been wonderful. I've had dreams that have come true for me,over and over again. Singing at Yankee Stadium was a dream that I had as a child. Singing at Carnegie Hall was a dream I had when I started to singing -- when I started to learn to sing music. Meeting Placido Domingo, I mean dream after dream has come true for me. I feel like I'm living a fantasy. I just count my blessings and thank God that I've been given the gift to share with everyone, and pray that I can go on doing that as long as I possibly can.
HEMMER: Hey, listen, great work. Congratulations to you again, and thanks for putting the smile on the faces of so many. Do you mind being called the "Singing Cop," by the way?
RODRIGUEZ: Not at all. I represent the greatest police force in the world, and the "Singing Cop" is a great title. I'm very proud of it.
HEMMER: I salute you. Happy holidays.
RODRIGUEZ: Thank you.
HEMMER: Daniel Rodriguez, live from New York.
RODRIGUEZ: God bless.
HEMMER: Okay, thank you.
Site authorized by Daniel Rodriguez
Website by Bonnie Beiseker, social media manager for Daniel Rodriguez
Questions, comments, messages to Daniel? E-mail us at: Danielnews4U@aol.com