2011-09-23 / Community

Broad Channel Resident Wows The Crowd

Pictured here construction worker and singing sensation Gary Russo wows the crowds in Brooklyn over Labor Day weekend. Performing from the bow of the docked paddlewheel Elena, he serenaded an attentive audience on Emmons Avenue which runs along the waterfront.

More recently Russo has been asked to sing at the Columbus Day Parade and also perform at the opening ceremonies for the New York City Marathon.

A resident of Broad Channel and frequent performer at the Rockaway Artists Alliance and other venues, Russo gained notice via YouTube when a passerby posted a short video of him crooning “The Summer Wind” during his lunch hour.

Considering the “inconvenience, traffic and impact” of the 2nd Avenue subway project on which he has been working, he decided to give something back to the neighborhood. Bringing his karaoke-style amplifier and microphone to the job site he began singing standards from Frank Sinatra to Neil Diamond, Dean Martin and Bobby Darren on his break. As he says, it was his way of “trying to give back a little bit.”

Now dubbed “the 2nd Avenue Sinatra,” his video has garnered more than one million Internet hits.

His performing talent has been touted in newspapers as far and wide as the Washington Post in America and Great Britain’s Daily Mail. Russo’s been featured on television and Internet news stories and in performance on “Good Morning, America,” “Fox and Friends,” “Extra Access Hollywood,” CNN, Reuters News and BBC America.

He has appeared on the Today Show, performed at Rockefeller Center for Access Hollywood and sung at the famed Blue Note for Inside Edition.

Among requests to sing at weddings and in town squares, he also received an invitation from a Japanese television station with a New York affiliate, asking when it might be convenient for him to tape a spot for their viewers.

Quipped Russo to the crowd in Brooklyn, “I’m very big in Japan.” On his new found recognition he says, “It started with a smile. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to share this special time with [everyone]. The magic that started on 2nd Avenue has spread around the world!”

And as David Fischer, the man who shot and posted the original video, says, "I was walking by the construction site and I heard this guy singing. I was going to keep walking but then when I heard this guy … I couldn't believe it, how good he was."

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