Daniel Rodriguez believes in the power of music to heal so much so that the former New York City policeman dubbed “the 9/11 Singing Policeman” travels the country with the “Healing Songs of Hope” concert tour.
“Music is an amazing therapy,” said Rodriguez, who will be in Augusta on July 4 to perform during the Star-Spangled Fourth event at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. The concert will begin at 7:30 p.m.
A classically trained tenor, Rodriguez dreamed of being a performer. At 16, he performed his first concert at Carnegie Hall, but his dream didn’t pay the bills. He worked a series of jobs until at age 30, he joined the New York City Police Department.
Sept. 11, 2001, changed his and many other lives. Rodriguez was headed to work that day when he saw the first plane hit the World Trade Center. He arrived on the scene and saw both towers collapse. He was almost among the casualties.
Sept. 23, 2001, thousands gathered for the Prayer For America event at Yankee Stadium, and the Singing Policeman sang God Bless America. He also met tenor and conductor Placido Domingo on that day and a dream was resurrected.
“I believed I’d lost my dream,” he said. “I walked some dark roads of depression for not becoming what I thought I’d become.”
His dark roads led to the embrace of his faith. He retired from the police department in 2004, and in 2006, he performed in Pagliacci with the Chelsea Opera Co. in New York City. He has been on numerous television programs including The Late Show With David Letterman, Oprah and Larry King Live.
He performs about 100 times a year and also does speaking engagements telling his story of healing and his battles with depression. He also performs with a group called the New York Tenors. With that group, he will perform at Carnegie Hall as well as the Lincoln Center later this year.
Rodriguez said his faith and his music led him to realize that he was leading not necessarily the life he’d always wanted, but “the life that had been prepared for me.” And his journey prior to Sept. 11, 2001, was all part of that life.
People often comment to him how inspirational his story is and how it has touched their lives.
For the Augusta concert, Rodriguez will sing songs of patriotism as well as some healing songs. He said he’s excited about his appearance in the Garden City.
“I love Augusta,” he said. “I’ve spent a lot of time in Savannah, and (Augusta) is one of the places I’ve enjoyed visiting.”
Rodriguez will be backed by a 100-member chorus and orchestra.
After the concert, there will be an afterglow party in the River Room, which will have some of the best views of Augusta’s fireworks display.
Tickets for the Star-Spangled Fourth are $20 for adults 18 and older, with children admitted free. The afterglow party in the River Room is $15 for adults, with children admitted free.
For more information, call (706) 722-3463 or visit riverwalkseries.com.