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2005 media

From a City Precinct to a Worldwide Stage

By Joseph P. Fried
Published: January 23, 2005

Mr. Rodriguez was already a trained singer when he joined the New York police force at the age of 30 in 1994, "to pay the bills,"

 

His persona as "the singing cop" rocketed him to national celebrity, but now Daniel Rodriguez is striving to have his rich tenor voice carry him through a career of broader musical accomplishment.

Besides, he is no longer a police officer. Mr. Rodriguez was already a trained singer when he joined the New York City police force at the age of 30 in 1994, "to pay the bills," he has said. Aside from duties like dealing with domestic violence, he sang the national anthem and "God Bless America" at Police Department and municipal ceremonies and sang a wide repertory in private engagements while off duty. Daniel Rodriguez is striving to have his rich tenor voice carry him through a career of broader musical accomplishment.

Besides, he is no longer a police officer. Mr. Rodriguez was already a trained singer when he joined the New York City police force at the age of 30 in 1994, "to pay the bills," he has said. Aside from duties like dealing with domestic violence, he sang the national anthem and "God Bless America" at Police Department and municipal ceremonies and sang a wide repertory in private engagements while off duty.

But his passionate performance at a nationally televised memorial service for victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack two weeks after it occurred brought him wide notice. Appearances on network television followed, along with training in the young artist program of the Washington National Opera at the invitation of Placido Domingo, the company's general director.

Mr. Rodriguez took a leave of absence from the Police Department in early 2002 to pursue singing opportunities. He recorded an album of songs that included "Ave Maria" and "Danny Boy," and then an album of romantic ballads, and he began his frequent and continuing appearances with symphony orchestras from New York to Indianapolis to Berlin.

"This is where I make my money now," Mr. Rodriguez, 40, said on Wednesday. He never returned from his leave and resigned from the Police Department last year. Mr. Rodriguez spoke by cellphone from the Ellipse in Washington, as he waited to go on stage to sing "God Bless America" in a pre-inaugural program.

So where is his career heading?

"Actually, a lot of people have been wondering what direction I'll take: Will I be a Broadway singer, an opera singer?" he said. "I hope to do it all." He will soon leave for Europe, he said, "to meet people who feel they can develop my career there."

He said Mr. Domingo told him that he had a "voice that lends itself to many genres, and that when the time comes to make a decision, it will reveal itself."

 

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Cop leaves vice for voice
By Mark Morey, Yakima Herald-Republic


Daniel Rodriguez, an actor and singer since the age of 12, had always wanted to make it big in the world of the performing arts. But he never expected- or wished - that fame would come in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorism attacks.

Rodriguez, a New York City policeman at the time, quickly gave a national face to the tragedy - performing at Yankee Stadium days after the towers collapsed and at 100 funerals of victims.

Today, he travels the world in his new persona as "the singing policeman" and "America's tenor." "It just shows that God has a great sense of humor," Rodriguez said in an interview Friday before a show Saturday night with the Yakima Symphony Orchestra.

It is God to whom Rodriguez gives credit for his singing ability, and he feels a duty to share that gift. Songs transcend language and culture, and remind us that we are all part of the human race, he said. "Music connects the world," he said

Rodriguez said that about half of his profits go to charity - Romanian children and handicapped youth are among his favorites.

It's a long way from being a short-order cook after he started a family at 19 and had to make ends meet. After testing with the post office and carrying a route for six years, he got a job with the police department at the age of 30.

Rodriguez, now 40, walked a beat for three years and then worked various details in vice, community affairs and domestic violence before essentially becoming the department's musicman. He sang at community meetings as a way to loosen up the usually complaining crowd, among other duties.

On Sept. 11, he saw the destruction and headed to Ground Zero. Turning left instead of right probably saved his life. Otherwise, he would have been right in the path of the falling towers.

Even though he's left the full-time badge and gun behind, he said he was glad for the chance to show that officers are good people. "Police officers were like Supermen to me when I was growing up. I knew that if I was in trouble and went up to them, they would take care of me," he said.

He remains on call to wear the uniform if he must sing at the funeral of a fallen officer or other event. 

Rodriguez said he thinks his audiences relate to him because his concerts are akin to chatting with him in his living room.

"I pretty much give everybody a piece of me to take home with them," he said. "I live by a simple rule - I try to leave a place a little better than I found it." 

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