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New York City's Singing Cop Becomes 'America's Tenor' - 2002-05-21

Daniel Rodriguez is a New York City police officer who captivated the country with his version of "God Bless America" at one of the tribute concerts televised after the September 11 terrorist attacks. He's just released his debut solo album, The Spirit of America, and is currently studying with renowned tenor Placido Domingo at the Washington Opera in the Nation's Capitol.

Officer Daniel Rodriguez has helped heal the nation with his songs of hope. He has also sung the National Anthem at Yankee Stadium and at the opening ceremonies of the 2002 Winter Olympics.

Growing up in New York City, Daniel listened to rock music as well as Broadway tunes and operas. He started singing professionally at age 12. When Rodriguez became a family man at age 20, he had to put his musical career aside.

Daniel said the New York City Police Department offered the financial security he was seeking. "I like the idea of being center stage in life," he said, "in the big city that's New York. So, I took the test and I passed it, and I went to the [police] academy. And it was probably what re-animated my career. I became the official National Anthem singer for the Police Department."

On his debut album, The Spirit of America, Daniel Rodriguez offers a collection of patriotic, folk, classical and inspirational songs. He also chose Broadway tunes, such as "Bring Him Home, "This Is The Moment" and "Into The Fire," that inspire determination and hope. Officer Rodriguez said, "These are songs that, at one point in my life, I heard and said, 'My God, that is so beautiful. I would love to record that, I would love to sing that.' I'm glad you mentioned 'Into The Fire,' because that happens to be one of my favorites. 'Into The Fire' is a song of triumph, of going through adversity and coming out on the other end triumphant. And I think our country has done the same thing."

Following his high-visibility performances in the past few months, Daniel Rodriguez was invited to study with Placido Domingo the Washington Opera Company at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

Now on a year-long leave of absence from the police department, the singing officer knows exactly what he wants to gain from this opportunity. "I wish to find what roles in the opera best suit my voice," he continued, "and I wish to come away with at least two roles that I can take out to the world and show another side of Daniel Rodriguez. Broadway has some beautiful songs and some gorgeous notes, but it doesn't really show the full color of the voice as opera will. And I want the world to see that I am versatile, and that I can go where very few singers have gone, just by sheer will."

Daniel Rodriguez said he is comfortable with the idea that people are looking at him as a symbol of the American spirit.

"People have referred to me as 'America's Tenor,'" he said, "'The Voice of a Nation' or 'The Voice That Healed a Nation.' And I feel very, very proud to be given those titles, because music to me was always a ministry. Everything in my life has always been directed by faith. And so, I feel that I've been blessed with a voice that touches people, and my responsibility is to share it with as many people as possible. And so if that comes with the title of 'America's Tenor' or whatnot, then I'll accept that title gladly and try to represent the title."

The officer will be featured in an upcoming television special.