Former NYC Officer Found Mission in Singing
Officer.com News-Sentinel, The (Fort Wayne, IN) (KRT) via NewsEdge Corporation
July 7, 2008: Before Sept. 11, 2001, he was a New York City police officer who sang in his spare time. Afterward, it was the opposite.
Besides the change in the amount of time tenor Daniel Rodriguez spent singing, there was also a change in his motivation.
Rodriguez told the approximately 1,200 people who turned out at The Chapel on Sunday that before 9/11, his primary motivation for singing was to attain fame and fortune.
"It was after 9/11 when I sang "Prayer for America" and I stood there and I realized that God had a gift that he had given me and he had a ministry for me," Rodriguez said during a church-sponsored tribute to American emergency responders and soldiers.
"Each of us is given a gift, and it's up to us to find out what that gift is and when we do, to nurture it, to help it to grow, to make it the best that it can be."
Rodriguez joked that some people thought he took up singing after 9/11, but it was obvious from his performance that he had been honing his skills for years. Inspired by his parents, Rodriguez, 44, began singing at 12 and debuted at Carnegie Hall at 17. But like a lot of struggling singers, he needed another occupation to put food on the table, and he became a police officer in 1994.
The department realized it could benefit from his voice after Rodriguez sang at his class's academy graduation. In addition to stints as a beat cop, member of the vice squad and hate crimes unit, Rodriguez was part of a ceremonial squad of officers who sang the national anthem at events on behalf of the department.
Before 9/11, he sang the anthem at gubernatorial, presidential and religious events. In the post-9/11 emotion, a uniformed Rodriguez was frequently seen singing the anthem and "God Bless America" at funerals as well as at Yankee Stadium and other venues. Rodriguez said it was a personal tribute to the victims of the World Trade Center attacks, civilians, firefighters and police. But in particular, it was a tribute to the emergency responders who were killed.
"My brothers and sisters who I lost in 9/11 exemplify these words: honor, valor and courage," Rodriguez told worshippers before singing 'Into the Fire.'
"I lived the horrors of 9/11 and made peace with God several times that day, and said goodbye to my family once or twice, and realized I was meant to stick around and do something positive with my life," Rodriguez said after his performance.
Rodriguez was asked to appear at The Chapel -- a Christian fundamentalist church that opened in 1994 -- by its pastor, the Rev. Rick Hawks and his wife, Cathy Hawks. They met Rodriguez in 2003 when they participated in a Rally for America in Huntington, W.Va., in support of U.S. soldiers, Cathy Hawks said.
"When I met him in 2003, his heart was bigger than his voice, and it was evident he was the type of person that we would want to work with and put in front of the community," said Cathy Hawks, The Chapel music director. "He's a great role model."
Rodriguez, who retired from the force in 2004, has made three albums and said he makes up to 160 appearances per year. "I pretty much live a vagabond's lifestyle, but I love it," he said.
Daniel Rodriguez Tells His Story Of Faith, Family And His Life's Journey In Music
Press and Dakotan, By Shauna Marlette, November 12, 2009
For Daniel Rodriguez, being known as "the singing policeman" has opened doors across the world. Yet, when he comes to Yankton on Saturday, Nov. 14, at the Summit Center Theatre as part of the Yankton Area Concert Association's 2009-2010 Concert Season, the story he will tell is that of a man who has trained since he was a child in order to be where he is now.
"I took the opportunity to do this tour in order to tell my story," Rodriguez said during a phone interview with the Press & Dakotan. "Most people believe that my career started after 9/11, which is far from the truth. This concert series tells the story of Daniel Rodriguez before 9/11."
The 107-city tour — which started in September and ends in May — will feature songs ranging from what Rodriguez called "classic crossover to Nelson Eddie songs and everything in between," taking advantage of the training he has received since before age 12, when he made his professional debut in New York City.
"I made a Carnegie Hall solo debut when I was 16," he said. "Music has always been a part of my life, but like with anyone's life, it doesn't always proceed in a straight line — there are twists and turns. The show tells the story of my life before 9/11 and the music and people that were important to me."
Rodriguez said that when he was 20 he felt he needed to find a "real" job, something with benefits to help support his young family. During the next four years he moved from job to job until he finally realized that for him, everything good in his life was based on music and he needed to find his way back to it.
"At 24, I did set out doing a concert again on my own, working at getting my career again," he said. "I was working in the Post Office, so I started out as the singing postman before I was the singing policeman. So I had my day job, and at night I was a singer anywhere that someone would listen. At that point I was very, very satisfied with where my life was at."
When he made the move to the New York Police Department they very quickly discovered his talent for singing, so much so that even at his graduation from police academy, he was named an official singer of the National Anthem. That designation led to singing engagements across the country.
"You have to remember that all this time I had been training to sing opera, since the age of 12, I had been training and developing a very, very big voice," Rodriguez said. "By 1998-99 I was very well known as the singing policeman. I sang at the White House, the Governor had called several times, I had sang at Saint Patrick's Cathedral, the mayor called, I sang at the 150th anniversary of New York on the steps of the capitol building. I was doing a lot of high-profile events as a police officer, so the police office became my first booking agent."
Rodriguez never lost his dream of performing on Broadway. In fact, when 9/11 occurred, he was in preparation to begin a three-month run in a show, but again his life was to take a different path.
"All of those twists have served me very well," he said. "They have shown me who I am as a singer, as a person. Now I travel through the heartland sharing that faith and family and having a lot of fun. I am as rich as I ever want to be right now, because I have my family with me. The things that really matter most and there is no monetary value you can put on that." The show that Rodriguez is bringing to Yankton also features jazz pianist Jesse Lynch, an emerging New York City pianist, and Marla and Marissa, a vocal duo from New Zealand.
"It is a great show. I tell the story of my life, Jesse does a solo that gives it a great swing sound and the girls sing songs that are harmonic," Rodriguez said. "There is really something for everyone in the concert."