Hoboken’s Sinatra Park will resonate with the sounds of its namesake, as the Sinatra Idol Contest 2018 takes place this Thursday, June 14 beginning at 6:30pm.
This annual event celebrates the life and music of Hoboken’s Frank Sinatra, and the lasting impact he’s had on our Mile Square. With contestants from all over the world, paying tribute to “The Voice,” prizes are awarded to the singers who best emulate Sinatra’s style.
Held at Sinatra Park on the scenic Hoboken waterfront, admission is free.
Judges for this year’s event include Bob Foster, Director of the Hoboken Historical Museum; Dave Post, Bandleader for the Swingadelic Big Band; Jack Silbert, music-obsessed writer and editor (The New York Times, New Jersey Monthly, Weird NJ, and hMAG) who has called Hoboken home since 1994; and Joyce Flinn, long-time Hoboken restaurateur and a devotee of Sinatra and Big Band music.
Stepping into the ring-a-ding-ding, we have:
James Beckham, Elizabeth, NJ. “I have always loved the music of the big band era and have a soft spot for the music of Frank Sinatra. I have been a singer all my life but started singing Sinatra’s music back in college. I won a contest singing Sinatra’s rendition of The Cole Porter classic ‘I’ve Got You Under My Skin’. From that day on, I continued learning the music of Sinatra and other Big Band Swing artists. I eventually built my own show ‘James’s Big Band Classics’ that I perform at local coffee shops, restaurants & assisted living communities in the area. I have also performed my show for Relay for Life events and wedding cocktail hours. It truly is a great feeling to keep the music of the legendary Frank Sinatra alive.”
John Busalschi, Wilmington, North Carolina. “I work as a Manufacturing Process Engineer. I started singing Sinatra tunes when I was about 16. My favorite song was ‘It Was A Very Good Year.’ As if Sinatra’s voice wasn’t enough, the orchestra strings hooked me. Sinatra music is addictive; it’s as good today as it ever was. I never tire of it and & love singing it. I especially love when others appreciate it — the younger the person, the bigger my grin. A friend’s mother heard one of my CDs and asked her son, ‘Since when do you listen to Frank Sinatra?’ He told her it wasn’t Sinatra — ‘It’s John Busalachi.'”
Paul Capello, Saint Augustine, FL. “I am an Army Chaplain. When I deployed to Iraq in 2009, my wife Lori gave me the newly released Frank Sinatra CD Nothing But the Best. I was hooked. I sang along with each tune during my tour, until I knew every word, every inflection. When I returned home, I tried my hand at karaoke, and was surprised at the warm reception I got with Sinatra tunes. Last July, I began performing occasionally as Paul Capello, Sinatra Tribute Artist. Why? Because I really dig the sound and the style of Frank Sinatra, and I want to keep that alive.”
Joe Cracco, Massapequa, NY. “Much like Mr. Sinatra, I am a blue-eyed Italian American. My grandmother grew up in Hoboken around the same time as Mr. Sinatra. I have been huge a fan of his since I was about 21 (I’m now 48). I’m a middle school math teacher, but I actually make sure my students are exposed to his music. At first they giggle, chuckle, and tell me it’s Christmas music. After a few times, though, they request Mr. Sinatra! They also think I sound like him. I have a similar timbre, give it a similar passion, but there was obviously only one Mr. Sinatra.”
Gabriel Díaz, Mexico City, Mexico. “I’m an ophthalmologist, working in the pharmaceutical industry for eight years. The very first time I heard a Sinatra song, I was too young to realize that the singer was Frank Sinatra. However, the beauty of the music caught my heart forever. I was at my grandmother’s, age 6 or 7, and she was listening to ‘Strangers in the Night.’ Lovely! Ever since, I grew up enjoying this music. It simply represents the most romantic, sweet, breathtaking, gentle, rhythmic, melodic and enjoyable music that ever was, that is, and that ever will be!”
Frank Gamrus, Madison, Indiana. “Desktop support technician. Singing has been a passion of mine for as long as I can remember and Sinatra has always had a special place in my heart. Although I did not start in his style of music, I began singing standards and Sinatra Tunes to work on my technique. I soon realized that I preferred these songs above today’s hits. The road to get here has been long but the journey is by far rewarding.”
Dylan Kaplan, Hoboken, NJ. “I grew up listening to the American Songbook on car rides with my pop. Sinatra and his music always bring back memories of my father, which is why I enjoy singing Sinatra tunes.”
Dan Lauzon, Burlington, Ontario, Canada. “I am retired from the Forces. I am currently a Frank Sinatra Tribute Artist and have been for the last (6) years. It all started by accident. Seven years ago a friend of mine told me that he was going to start performing as Dean Martin and suggested that I perform as Frank Sinatra and we could perform as Frank and Dean. Well, I knew nothing about Frank Sinatra. So I did a lot of research and we started performing as Frank and Dean. While I was doing research on Frank and learning songs, I could feel the music. It was electrifying. I felt the music in my soul. The words to the songs actually meant something. I went from not knowing any songs to knowing (50). I’m still learning more songs. I absolutely love it.”
Barry Oliver Lawton, Dorchester, MA; Retired School Teacher and Community Activist, Barry has been inspired by Frank Sinatra not only as a superb vocalist, but as a brave humanitarian who was not afraid to go against the status quo in support of the civil rights movement, opening doors for African American artists. Barry, as did Frank, appreciates that music is color-blind and that it’s beauty can be used as a tool to unify the world.
David Martinez, Elmont, NY. “I’m the Executive Director of Only Love Foundation. I grew up listening to Sinatra, but it wasn’t until the night Sinatra passed that I realized what he meant to me. My mother was driving my sister and I home when the radio cut and the announcement began. From my mother’s tears, I quickly knew this man was dear to her, as she’d never cried in front of us. I asked God to let me sing like Sinatra when I grew up so I could make my mom happy like he did. Sinatra is family to me and his music makes anywhere feel like home.”
Jerry Padula, Esq., Waterbury, CT. “I work as an attorney for the State of Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection. I’ve always loved jazz, and in my early listening to the standards, and consulting my dad, I quickly discovered that Sinatra was the ultimate singer. Since he was also an Italian-American, he served as a musical role model. For over 10 years, I’ve been singing the songs made famous by him at karaoke haunts, weddings, and cities far and wide: Torino, Sicily, Calabria, Palm Springs, Quebec City…. On Sinatra’s 100th birthday in December, 2015, I found a karaoke spot in midtown Manhattan and performed ‘That’s Life’ to great applause.”
Humphrey Uddoh, Jersey City, NJ. An attorney working in the Public Sector, Humphrey’s passion for Sinatra’s music stems from his enthusiasm for singing in the “crooner style”. During his junior high school years at the United Nations International School in New York, he was introduced to different styles of music from around the world, which experience he treasures to this day. Humphrey was also fortunate to have a mother who was friends with Sammy Davis Jr.’s wife, Maibritt, and had occasion to watch Mr. Davis rehearse and perform on various occasions; those performances served to inspire Humphrey to sing himself during his college years at Vassar College. During College, however, Humphrey lost his ability to sing when he picked up a cigarette smoking habit, which lasted into his adulthood. Smoke free now for the past five years, Humphrey has re-acquired his ability to sing, and is looking forward to this wonderful opportunity to sing at the Frank Sinatra competition.
Stanley Volk, London, England. “I am now retired, but worked in the garment industry in London since leaving school. I started singing in several choirs 20 years ago, including Barber Shop Quartets. Since retirement, I decided to go solo in the Sinatra style, performing in Senior Care homes, bars and restaurants. A year ago, I made the break to the Grosvenor Casinos Rank group, singing in Piccadilly and Bayeswater casinos. I have also have taken part in the X-Factor UK twice, reaching 3rd round on both occasions. Swing music has always been a major part of my life. I am influenced by the timeless music of Sinatra and inspired by the swing legends that have made these songs great.”
Thanks to all of the local businesses who donated prizes including:
Arthur’s Tavern • Body Balance Hoboken • Carpe Diem Pub & Restaurant
Dino & Harry’s Steakhouse • Empire Coffee & Tea Co. • Hoboken Hair
Hoboken Farms • Little City Books • Blue Eyes Cafe • Leo’s Grandevous
Lepore’s Chocolates • Madison Bar & Grill • V’s Barbershop • GFG Bakery Cafe
Tunes • Ali Baba Restaurant • Stan’s Sports Center • Edible Arrangements
This program is made possible by a grant from The New Jersey State Council on the Arts, a division of the Department of State, and administered by the Hudson County Office of Cultural & Heritage Affairs, Thomas A. DeGise, Hudson County County Executive and Hudson County Board of Chosen Freeholders.