Daniel Rodriguez in Concert
with the Evansville Philharmonic
Rebecca Coudret, Oct 4-5 2003
Over the years, there have been a lot of truly great Pops Concerts in Evansville. Great guests. Great performances. Great musical selections. But of them all, Saturday night's season-opening concert surely was the best. Absolutely the finest, the most emotional, most beautifully performed, most musically satisfying of them all.
For that night, there was only one tenor who mattered--and for the 1500 in the audience at The Victory, Daniel Rodriguez was that tenor.
Dubbed the "singing policeman" from his vocal appearances at countless post 9/11 tributes and memorial services, Rodriguez is so much more than just one of "New York City's finest" who can sing. He is a strong steady expressive tenor whose lower notes are filled with emotion - and whose high notes soar to the rafters.
Saturday he sang with heart and soul--and wit; he seemed to be genuinely appreciative of the absolutely stellar sounds from the Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra and Philharmonic Chorus. And make no mistake about it; This concert was wonderful because it was a total concert package from beginning to end.
The orchestra was splendid, opening with John Williams' "Liberty Fanfare" a spirited yet dignified play of the re-dedication of the Statue of Liberty in 1986.
After a "Tribute to the Big Apple" ( and Rodriguez) filled with a cascading range of tempos and traffic sounds, confusion and well-known New York related tunes, the evening's guest took to the stage. Even those of us familiar with Rodriguez's talent had no idea just how wonderful he would be.
He opened with "This is the Moment" from the Frank Wildhorn/Leslie Bricusse musical "Jeckell & Hyde,"an emotional, beautiful piece that showcased both his upper and lower registers. With "Into the Fire" a piece sung in honor of police, fire and emergency workers, Rodriguez had as much quality in his expressiveness as his voice; we could see he was feeling the lyrics as deeply as the melody. "Be My Love" the Mario Lanza standard was next; it was satisfying to hear Rodriguez put the same emotional touches into the song as the great Lanza did.
He closed the first half of the program with two Latin-beat selections, "Solamente Una Vez" and "Jurame." While the former was, perhaps the more melodic of the two, the later showed off his voice a bit more.
(After the break) Rodriguez returned, with a heartfelt "Con Te Partiro" that allowed his beautiful voice to soar. Next, he took the often-heard "You'll Never Walk Alone"and turned it into a heartfelt tribute to American servicemen and women. And then, as Rodriguez said it was time to share the gift God gave him.
He sang "The Lord's Prayer," and he was so mesmerizing, and the orchestra so nearly perfect, that it almost seemed the chorus slipped in without notice until the full glory of its voices came through. Heads were shaking. People were rubbing away goosebumps and tears. "America the Beautiful" was next---and--and I can only pray that you'll be in the audience today to hear what he does with the Tom Scott arrangement of the patriotic piece.
Vanderburgh County Sheriff Brad Ellsworth then joined Rodriguez in singing "God Bless America," and the two brought down the house. Rodriguez's encore was a treat for anyone who loves music. He tackled and nailed one of the toughest and most-loved arias in opera: Nessun Dorma." The total concert package was the best. Purely, simply the best.
Singing Cop Makes Stop
Isamu Jordan Oct 9 2003
Staff writer The Spokane-Review
Imagine being an NYPD officer working at the Ground Zero site shortly after Sept. 11, 2001.
Now imagine being called away from your duties at Ground Zero to sing the national anthem on "Live with Regis & Kelly," where you are praised as "The Singing Cop" and "America's Beloved Tenor."
That's how Daniel Rodriguez's life was changed by the terrorist attacks. He went from being a community affairs officer who sang at NYPD police events to a national symbol of courage and perseverance.
"It's an awesome responsibility," Rodriguez, who opens the Spokane Symphony's SuperPops series on Saturday, said in a telephone interview from his home in Staten Island.
"I lost a lot of friends (on Sept. 11), and my popularity has a lot to do with that tragedy. I'm respectful of that and grateful for a chance to have a positive role during a negative time.
The 39-year-old Rodriguez caught America's attention when he sang the national anthem at an emotionally charged memorial at Yankee Stadium following the events of Sept. 11, 2001.
Since then he has sung at more than 100 funerals, made numerous television appearances and released two solo albums.
A recorded single of Rodriguez's rendition of "God Bless America" was released in the winter of 2001 and earned $50,000 for New York City's Twin Towers Fund -- as much as Rodriguez's yearly salary as a policeman (not counting his monthly stipend).
The single was quickly followed by his full-length Manhattan/EMI debut, "The Spirit of America." His sophomore set, "From My Heart," was released in February. Rodriguez will perform songs from both albums on Saturday at the Opera House.
After spending seven years behind the badge and then launching into fame as a singer, Rodriguez is quick to point out that he wasn't a cop who became a singer; he was a singer who became a cop. And the singer eclipsing the cop was an eventuality that was only quickened by the Sept. 11 attacks, he said.
"As the official national anthem singer for the NYPD, when the tragedy occurred and they needed someone, they naturally called on me. The NYPD was looking for anything positive to give a sense of wellness. With the combination of voice and uniform, people took notice."
As he sang at more memorial services, Rodriguez said he realized singing wasn't so much a career, it was a calling to offer a sense of hope and comfort - a calling he had been training for since he was 12 years old.
"God has given me a gift that I've been trying to develop into a career," he said. In his 20s, Rodriguez supported his family by working odd jobs such as a truck driver, short-order cook and a cabinetmaker, while trying to start a singing career. He sang at Brooklyn Catholic churches; frequently staged and sang in his own production, which he called Broadway Magic; and regularly opened the yearly Broadway on Broadway concerts in Times Square, singing the national anthem.
After joining the police academy in the early 1990s Rodriguez sang the national anthem at the NYPD graduation ceremony in Madison Square Garden before 2,000 officers.
While assigned to the NYPD ceremonial unit (policemen who sing at official functions), Rodriguez moved through the ranks from patrolman to community affairs relations officer in charge of domestic violence and hate crimes. Even before the terrorist attacks, CNN had produced a segment on Rodriguez as a singing cop.
After his post-Sept. 11 Yankee Stadium performance, legendary tenor Placido Domingo invited Rodriguez to train at his Washington Opera's Vilar Young Artist Program.
Since then he has appeared on "The Today Show,""Good Morning America," "Larry King Live" and the "Late Show with David Letterman."
With plans to retire from the force in March, Rodriguez now wears his uniform only in performances related to Sept. 11 or the NYPD.
Rodriguez, who favors Broadway tunes, promises at least one faith-based song on every album.
"From My Heart" contains two: "I Walk With God" and "The Prayer," a duet with British soprano sensation Izzy. "The Prayer," from the score to Disney's animated film "The Quest For Camelot," was nominated for an Oscar for best original song in 1998.
The album also includes two songs, both sung in Spanish, which Rodriguez's mother taught him when he was young.
Rodriguez is working on his 2004 release, which will explore a more contemporary pop sound but with similar sentiments of love, faith and hope.
'Singing Policeman' displays power, poise
By Dave Tianen Nov. 2003
Imagine Mario Lanza with a redemptive shot of humility and you have a start on Daniel Rodriguez.
Rodriguez is often dubbed the Singing Policeman. A member of the New York City Police Department, Rodriguez came to prominence in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks for his stirring rendition of "God Bless America," which he recorded as a benefit for the Twin Towers Fund.
Although he remains a New York cop, Rodriguez continues to tour and record. On Sunday, he helped launch the opening weekend of the new Milwaukee Theatre, appearing with the Festival City Symphony and the Heritage Chorale. Conducting for Rodriguez was bandleader and jazz-pop saxophonist Tom Scott.
Mario Lanza is a musical hero for Rodriguez, and, like the famed Hollywood tenor, Rodriguez works both sides of the line between opera and pop. Sunday's repertoire mixed Broadway ("You'll Never Walk Alone," and "Into the Fire"), Latin ("Solamente Una Vez"), dramatic pop ("Granada") and Americana ("Danny Boy" and "God Bless America.") Rodriguez is an immensely likable figure on stage: gracious, modest, warm, funny and unassuming. He has a natural polish and ease that would suggest a far more experienced performer.
You expect power to burn from opera singers, and you get that with Rodriguez, who is clearly in his element with heroic material such as "Into the Fire." What puts him over as a pop singer, however, is the sensitivity and vulnerability he brings to the quieter passages in songs such as "Bring Him Home" from "Les Miserables."
The Festival City Orchestra, under the direction of Monte Perkins, turned to a program that acknowledged the occasion of opening a new theater.
The Heritage Chorale mixed gospel material such as "Praise Ye the Lord" and "Ride the Chariot" with Gershwin elements such as "Love Walked In.