Next week, June 25 I will perform again at the renowned supper club 54 Below in New York City. It has become a very special place for me, as last year I got very lucky there. So much that it changed my life. It is also a story of never, never give up.
In an article about Donald Trump I read once that he said that to be successful you need luck. He was adding that to be lucky you need to work hard, be prepared and get out there. Mr. Trump was telling that in the period that he almost went bankrupt he pushed himself to go to a fundraiser and ended up sitting next to a banker that helped him safe his business.
In his new book also Joe Plumeri describes being out there and networking as "playing in traffic" an important factor for success.
Although I'm not (yet) wealthy like Mr. Trump or Mr. Plumeri, I think I got some luck in the last couple of years, by networking, by playing in traffic as Mr. Plumeri would say. That has also been the way I had the honor to meet Mr. Plumeri a few years back, while performing at a fundraiser where he was honored.
A few years ago I started to think about this big idea to film a television special for PBS that would promote a national tour with concerts in big theaters, a bit similar to what Andrea Bocelli is doing. A project that would cost at least half a million dollars. I'm not signed to a major record label, so where to find that kind of money was the challenge. In 2012 had been also seriously ill. I had used all my savings to pay the rent and the medical bills as I was hardly able to work. Therefore my own money wasn't an option for sure.
I knew I had something special to offer with my music and I knew there were people that would have love to be part of such a beautiful project. I just had to find the right people with love for music and love for Italy. I started to attend seminars about fundraising for the Arts with my manager and we were learning every little detail.
With my music I was already meeting interesting people. My wonderful manager arranged performances at Charity Events of respected organizations like the Columbus Citizens Foundation, the National Italian American Foundation, the Order Sons of Italy and the American Italian Cancer Foundation. Through those events I had the honor to meet some great people, from Chairmen & CEOs of very large companies to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the US Armed Forces to highly successful entrepreneurs. I started to ask around if they were willing to help me.
I had to master something that was new for me. I was used to give and not to ask. At the seminars I had attended I had learned to be ready for the no and not to be upset! And there were indeed many no-s and some serious disappointments here and there. But I was keeping strong. I knew I had something special I just needed to address my request to the right people.
My manager and I had so my passion for this project that we were unstoppable.
Many people that I asked for help were often pointing out to this one man. Someone that had very successful career on Wall Street. This guy was known for liking music, he even had invested big on Broadway. However he was really difficult to reach always in a meeting. My manager and I send him a package with a presentation of my project. But he declined for the opportunity.
Then, one night I was chatting with the owner of a restaurant and it turned out he knew him very well. I got the tip to call him at the certain time of the day and invite him for dinner. And, I got him on the phone and he accepted my invitation. Over dinner my manager and I were able to show our passion for our project and explain more in detail what our plans were. He agreed to come see a showcase I was doing a few weeks later. He wanted a chair near the door so he could leave early if he thought the show was not to his likes. But he stayed the whole show, and was even singing along at the end of the show. But he still was not sure.
Then June exact a year ago I was performing at 54 Below and this wealthy man wanted to see the show again, this time with some more friends to see if I was able to impress also a more sophisticated and critical audience.
Luck is when preparation meets opportunity. I had worked for a year perfecting the show, from the songs to sing, to my stage presence working with a great choreographer. Also that night at 54 Below I sang with passion and sang my heart out.
And I got lucky. He had agreed there on the spot that he was on board and would help my project with funding. Because of his participation I got the help of more people. It gave me a boost a confidence. The saying "NEVER NEVER GIVE UP" was so on the spot.
At my upcoming performance at 54 Below, Thursday, June 25, an important talent agent will come check me out together with some corporate sponsors. I need to set up a tour of 45 cities for next year and I could use some help. Will I be lucky again? All I know for sure is that I will be singing my heart out and my audience will have a night they will remember. Love will be in the air and hopefully luck will be a lady once again.