Bill Hemmer Interview/Debut Albums
"God Bless America" | "Spirit of America"
December 14, 2001
BILL HEMMER: You may recognize this voice, heard right here.
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 is live with us from New York City. Officer, good morning to you.
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 do something that helps the healing process and gives comfort to those who have had losses.
HEMMER: What kind of reaction have you gotten?
RODRIGUEZ: Everything very, very positive. Families of those I've done memorial services for have come to me, and written letters to me that they've gotten some comfort from my singing.
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 razzing, but I think now they've realized that 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. 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.
RUDOLPH GIULIANI, MAYOR OF NEW YORK CITY: "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."
HEMMER: The mayor, reciting the words of Irving Berlin. You chose two songs, tell us why.
RODRIGUEZ: "God Bless America," 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?
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: It's been a great ride. I've had dreams that have come true for me, over and over again. Singing at Yankee Stadium was a dream I had as a child. Singing at Carnegie Hall was a dream when I started to learn 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 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: I represent the greatest police force in the world, "Singing Cop" is a great title. I'm very proud of it.
HEMMER: I salute you. Happy holidays.
"God Bless America"
Mayor Rudy Giuliani reviewing the words he would record for Daniel's debut CD "God Bless America"
First check from the early profits of Daniel's first 2-track single "God Bless America". Manhattan Records Vice President/General manager Arif Mardin, Bruce Lundvall, president of Capitol Jazz and Classics, Ian Ralfini, vice-president of Manhattan Records, George Grasso, First Deputy Police Commissioner, officer Daniel Rodriguez and Tom Scott, producer/manager.
EMI/Manhattan Records, presented the first installment check for $50,000, payable to The Twin Towers Fund. As the Cd single went out of print, a grand total of over $250,000 was given to families affected by the destruction of the Twin Towers.
Daniel's first 2-track single with spoken intro
by Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. All profits of this
debut Cd went to the 9/11 victims families.
"The Spirit of America"
Release party highlights: Presentation of $50,000 check for the Twin Towers fund, from sales of "God Bless America", and celebration on the release of Daniel's first full length album 'The Spirit of America'. Held at Lure Restaurant in New York, attended by record company executives, special friends and supporters. Daniel with Dan Aykroyd, Paul Shaffer and Dr. Ruth Westheimer.
March 30, 2002,
"The Spirit of America"
reaches #1 on
Debut album impressive — and touching
By Edward Reichel, Deseret News music critic, Salt Lake City, Utah
Daniel Rodriguez tenor "The Spirit of America"
This is an auspicious debut album for police-officer-turned-singing-phenomenon Daniel Rodriguez. The 12 tracks on this CD have a nice mix of inspirational and patriotic songs, as well as Broadway tunes. And all of the selections show off his impressive vocal talents.
As a singer, Rodriguez has a wonderfully, rich, warm and expressive tenor. Lyricism and fluidity characterize his voice, which is remarkably versatile. He can belt out "God Bless America" and "America the Beautiful" as well as any opera singer. But on the other hand, when Rodriguez sings show tunes, he does full justice to them with his intelligent, simple and straight for-ward renditions. All in all, you can't help but be moved by his earnestness and by the heartfelt emotions he expresses in these songs.
All of these tracks have something to recommend them, and every stand out from the rest. Rodriguez does a beautiful job with a couple of Broadway songs. "Bring Him Home," from "Les Miserables," and "You'll Never Walk Alone," from "Carousel," are strikingly expressive and subtly dramatic.
A new song, "We Will Go On," is inspiring and uplifting, and offers a vision of hope for the future in post-9/11 America. Other noteworthy pieces are the Bach/Gounod setting of "Ave Maria,""The Lord's Prayer," "Shenandoah" and "The House I Live In."Throughout the CD, the orchestral accompaniment is clean and understated, allowing Rodriguez to stand convincingly on his own as a singer. This is a smoothly produced album but not slick, and Rodriguez, thankfully, comes across as sincere and honest.
with Tom Scott
"God Bless America"
"The Spirit of America"
MY POINT OF (RE)VIEW – Daniel Rodriguez "Spirit Of America"
By Danny Grae, The Community Express
As I write this column, the second anniversary of September 11th quickly approaches. As you read this column, the anniversary will have already passed. And although we will all be dealing with this column at two different points in time, many of the same disturbing memories and troubling emotions will still be haunting us all the same. Each one of us will cope with these memories and emotions in a multitude of ways. For me, all emotions - good and bad are aided and supported with the help of music. Music can make a good day even better, or on a bad day it can lift my spirits in a way that no drug possibly could.
In the days that followed 9/11, we all needed our spirits lifted and many of us found our drug of choice in Daniel Rodriguez. The NYPD security officer's version of "God Bless America" was heard across the country on several live television broadcasts bringing hope and inspiration when we needed it most. Not since Kate Smith sang the Irving Berlin standard at the break of World War II has the song had as much impact on the American people. We needed our voices heard and Daniel's operatic tenor voice rose high and strong on our behalf. Perhaps it was knowing that many of his colleagues had lost their lives and that so many others were struggling with the rescue/recovery efforts that made his rendition of this American classic so powerful and moving. Whatever the reason, it was a "blessing" that our country so desperately needed
It is no surprise then that "the powers that be" took notice of Daniel's gift and soon thereafter a full CD was in work. Comprised primarily of songs thatare meant to inspire on a personal as well as national level, the CD is aptly entitled "The Spirit Of America". Besides "God Bless America", the CD also contains our national anthem "America The Beautiful" sung with the same fervorand bravado. A true New Yorker, Daniel finds inspiration in songs of the theatre. Four of Broadway's best - "Bring Him Home" from Les Miserables, "This Is The Moment" from Jekyll & Hyde, "Into The Fire" from Scarlet Pimpernel and the timeless standard "You'll Never Walk Alone" from Carousel are sung with the pride and bona fide emotion usually reserved for veterans of the New York stage. Comfort is found in two classic songs of faith - "The Lord's Prayer"and "Ave Maria" are both sung with reverence and praise giving the listener hope for a better tomorrow.
We as a nation will never forget the tragic events of 9/11. We as individuals will continue to struggle with the memories and look for ways to understand and cope. If you are at all like me and rely on the power of music to help you through troubled times - then give Daniel Rodriguez a listen. His "Spirit Of America" will help lift your spirit just as it did in the aftermath of 9/11. Remember...right or wrong, good or bad – it’s just my point of (re)view!