Frank Sinatra is known to be one of the world’s well-known song-stylists as he had an impeccable vocal range and a jazz-infused approach towards singing. What’s even better, is that Sinatra was a Hoboken native. With that being said, the Hoboken Idol contest is taking place once again.
The Sinatra Idol contest will be hosted by Gary Simpsinatra and Geri Fallo following with being judged by Mayor Ravinder S. Bhalla, Director of the Hoboken Historical Museum Bob Foster, Music Writer and Editor Jack Silbert, Owner of The Elysian Cafe and Schnackenberg’s Luncheonette Joyce Flinn, Opera Singer and TV Host Cristina Fontanelli, and Founder and Editor of NJArts.net Jay Lustig.
The contestants for this year’s Sinatra Idol event are James Beckham, John Busalschi, Peter Cannella, Paul Capello, Joe Cracco, Gabriel Diaz, Frank Gamrus, Dylan Kaplan, Dan Lauzon, Barry Oliver Lawton, David Martinez, Jerry Padula, Humphrey Uddoh, and Stanley Volk. All contestants are from all over the globe and value Sinatra as an individual as well as his music.
“Growing up, I have always loved the music of the big band era, but I had a soft spot for the music of Frank Sinatra,” said Beckham, who is from Elizabeth, New Jersey. “I have been a singer all my life but started singing Sinatra’s music back in my freshman year of college. I won a campus talent show with Sinatra’s rendition of The Cole Porter classic “I’ve Got You Under My Skin”.
Although Beckham has his regular day job, he hosts his own one show called “James Big Band Classics”.
“I have performed my show at numerous venues in the Northern New Jersey area,” he said. “I want to thank Gerri Fallo and the committee for Hoboken Sinatra Idol and for this wonderful experience.”
Busalschi is from Wilmington, North Carolina. He loves Sinatra and works as a Manufacturing Process Engineer.
“I started singing Sinatra tunes when I was about 16,” said Busalschi. “My favorite song was “It Was A Very Good Year.” As if Sinatra’s voice wasn’t enough, the orchestra strings hooked me.”
Cannella is from Gloucester City, New Jersey. He is a singer, songwriter, arranger, and entertainer.
“I started singing Sinatra when I was very young,” said Cannella. “I made my first jobs singing at 20 years old in Okinawa, Japan while stationed in the Marine Corps singing with quartets and trios.”
When he returned home to the States, Cannella continued singing as well as performing in multiple stages at major casinos along with singing locally every weekend in small venues.
Capello is from Saint Augustine, Florida and is 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”, he said. “I was hooked. I sang along with each tune during my tour, until I knew every word, every inflection.”
When he returned home, he tried out karaoke and was surprised at the warm reception he received when singing Sinatra tunes.
Cracco is from Massapequa, New York and is a middle school math teacher who actually makes sure his students are exposed to Sinatra’s music.
“Much like Mr. Sinatra, I am a blue-eyed Italian American,” he said. “My grandmother grew up in Hoboken around the same time as Mr. Sinatra. I have been a huge fan of his since I was about 21.”
Díaz is from Mexico City, Mexico and is an ophthalmologist who has been 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,” said Diaz. “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.”
Ever since he spent this day at his grandmother’s home, Diaz appreciates Sinatra’s music.
Gamrus is from Madison, Indiana and is a Desktop support technician.
“Singing has been a passion of mine for as long as I can remember and Frank Sinatra has always had a special place in my heart,” said Gamrus. “Although I did not start in his style of music, I began singing standards and Sinatra tunes to work on my technique.”
Kaplan is a Hoboken resident.
“I am proud to be a Hoboken resident and represent the home team for Sinatra Idol,” he said. “ A big thank you to my family who has always shown their support. My performance today is dedicated to two special people, Mary Reese, and Martin Kaplan, who both loved listening to Frank croon the American Songbook.”
Lauzon is from Burlington, Ontario, Canada and is retired from the Armed Forces.
“For the last six years, I’ve been a Frank Sinatra tribute artist,” said Lauzon. “It all started by accident. Seven years ago, a friend of mine said he was going to perform as Dean Martin and suggested that I be Sinatra so we could appear as Frank and Dean. Well, I knew nothing about Sinatra. While I was researching him, I could feel the music. It was electrifying; I felt it in my soul.”
Lawton is from Dorchester, Massachusets and is a retired School Teacher and Community Activist. He has been inspired by Sinatra not only because he was an over the top vocalist, but because he was a brave humanitarian who wasn’t scared to go against the status quo in support of the civil rights movement. Sinatra also opened doors for African American artists, which Lawton admired.
Martinez is from Elmont, New York and is the Executive Director of the 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,” said Martinez. “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.”
Padula, Esq. is from Waterbury, Connecticut and is an attorney for the State of Connecticut’s 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,” said Padula. “Since he was also an Italian-American, he served as a musical role model. For over ten years, I’ve been singing the songs made famous by him at karaoke haunts, weddings, and cities far and wide.”
Padula has performed in cities all the way from Torino, Sicily, Calabria, Palm Springs, to Quebec.
“On Sinatra’s 100th birthday in December 2015, I found a karaoke spot in midtown Manhattan and performed “That’s Life” to great applause,” he said.
Uddoh is from Jersey City and is an attorney working in the Public Sector. His passion for Sinatra’s music arrives from his enthusiasm for singing in the “crooner style”. Throughout his junior high school years at the United Nations International School in New York, Uddoh was introduced to different styles of music from around the world, which is an experience he treasures to this very day.
Volk is from London, England and worked in London’s garment industry since leaving school, which he is now retired from.
“ I started singing in several choirs 20 years ago, including barbershop quartets,” said Volk. “Since retirement, I decided to go solo in the Sinatra style, performing in senior care homes, bars, and restaurants. A year ago, I connected with the Grosvenor Casinos group, singing in Piccadilly and Bayeswater. I have also have taken part in the X-Factor UK twice, reaching the third round on both occasions. I am influenced by the timeless music of Sinatra and inspired by the swing legends that have made these songs great.”
The Sinatra Idol contest is brought to you by a grant provided by The New Jersey State Council of 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.
The event’s summer sponsors are Ironstate Development, Burgiss, Suez, NY Waterway Ferry, Popular, Muller Insurance and My Gym Hoboken.
Lastly, local businesses such as Arthur’s Tavern, Little City Books, Blue Eyes Cafe, Empire Coffee & Tea Co., Hoboken Farms, among others donated prizes which will be awarded to the best Sinatra style singers.
Sinatra Idol will start at 6:30 pm and will be held at Sinatra Park. If it rains, the event will be moved to the DeBaun Auditorium located at 24 5th Street in Hoboken. This is a free event for all.