Scott's World -- UPI Arts & Entertainment

By VERNON SCOTT, UPI Hollywood Reporter  |  May 27, 2002 at 10:51 PM
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HOLLYWOOD, May 27 (UPI) -- From the ashes of the Sept. 11 World Trade Center catastrophe a rising star has emerged: a New York cop named Daniel Rodriguez with the voice of an angel.

Rodriguez, a first generation Puerto Rican-American, is a barrel-chested tenor with operatic vocal cords reminiscent of Mario Lanza.

He dreams of playing Lanza in a movie biography.

Rodriguez's powerful voice will be heard on the PBS Fourth of July special "The Spirit of America Concert."

He sang his version of "God Bless America" at last year's World Series and the Thanksgiving Day Parade in Manhattan.

He opened the PBS Memorial Day Show with a ringing rendition of "America The Beautiful."

One of many NYPD heroes in the immediate aftermath of the hijacked airliners' crashes into the twin towers, Rodriguez helped restore order in the terrifying chaos that followed the terrorists' destruction of the two highest structures in the country.

Rodriguez was two blocks from the epicenter and went immediately into action with other NYPD officers and the New York Fire Department to help save lives.

Currently Rodriguez is on a national tour appearing with leading symphony orchestras singing songs from his first album "The Spirit of America," from

Manhattan Records, a division of Capitol Jazz & Classics.

On leave from the NYPD, of which he has been a member for eight years, Rodriguez is also studying with famed operatic tenor Placido Domingo's Vilar

Young Artists Program of the Washington Opera.

His album is selling briskly, helping to create new fans for the youthful-looking Rodriguez who shows promises of becoming the next Latino singing star.

Look out, Ricky Martin: Here comes the crooning cop!

He told United Press International this week, "I have been singing all my life, and now I have the opportunity to continue training my voice for concerts and opera.

"There is a second album in the works, and I would like to appear on television and investigate what movie opportunities may come along in the future.

"It is a dream come true for a guy from Brooklyn, where I was born and grew up.

"I live on Staten Island now. I wanted to see what the other side of the Brooklyn Bridge looked like. A lot more trees over there; as close to the country as I can get."

Rodriguez has become a celebrity, appearing on TV with Larry King and Oprah, and on the "Today Show," "Good Morning America" and ABC's "An American Celebration at Ford's Theatre."

Like Lanza, Rodriguez is a handsome, engaging man with a robust sense of humor and lust for life.

He doesn't hesitate to say, "Mario Lanza was a ladies' man. I am a family man. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

"I'm a man of faith and my path has taken me step by step to attain my goals. The great tragedy in New York kind of put me in the media light. I've been singing and studying music since I was 12-years-old.

"All that hard work, and never letting go, has paid off since the 9-11 disaster. Now I'm living a dream.

"I was on the street under the buildings when the planes hit the towers.

"We helped as many people as we could; we were covered with dirt and debris and plaster. We helped people get out of lower Manhattan into tunnels, ferries and over bridges.

"I took a leave of absence for three months when Mr. Domingo asked me to study with him. He wants me to return next year. He's an amazing man. I love


"He is preparing the next crop of opera superstars to keep grand opera a part of world culture. Hopefully I will continue to pursue music.

"People say I have a voice like Lanza, who did films and TV, operetta and show tunes. I don't think he did a formal opera, but I believe he planned to.

"I hope I'm able to do what he did not. I want to sing operatic roles in the near future.

"Eventually I'll have to choose my future, which is music, and I will have to leave the police department.

"I'd feel bad about leaving police work. I will miss my brothers in blue. There's a strong bond among officers. Now as a civilian I still feel the need to help people in distress or danger.

"If I see something going on in the street, I automatically go there to see if I can lend a hand. I may be on leave but my training will never leave me.

"Of course, I want to fulfill my life ambition to be a singer but I'll always be a policeman at heart. I'll never pass a person in need."

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