Mark Randisi, the star of the upcoming “Sound of Sinatra” fundraiser for the new Rockford Area Museum (RAM), was in town on Tuesday, Jan. 24 to spend the day promoting the show, which will be presented on Saturday, Feb. 18 at Rockford High School (RHS).
Randisi’s visit started with dinner on Monday evening with several members of the Rockford Historical Society, including the Society’s president, Terry Konkle.
Tuesday was busy, starting with an appearance on Channel 13’s “Take Five and Company,” where he sang a song from the show and was interviewed by Catherine Behrendt. His love and respect for Frank Sinatra’s music was apparent as he talked about the show and the incredible Johnny Trudell Big Band that will be accompanying him at RHS. He also mentioned the scheduled appearance by the Rockford Community Children’s Choir that will join him onstage to perform Rockford’s version of a famous Frank Sinatra scene in which he sang the song “High Hopes” with a group of youngsters. You can see that television appearance by going to www.wzzm13.com and clicking on the Take 5 page.
His next stop was at the studios of WJRW AM, where he was interviewed by John Gonzalez, the entertainment editor of the Grand Rapids Press and host of “Going Gonzo,” his WJRW entertainment show. That interview also displayed Randisi’s love for the music he performs, as well as talking about his singing career which started when he was “discovered” about 14 years ago singing Sinatra songs at karaoke bars in the Detroit area.
Gonzalez learned that Randisi was working in his family’s commercial painting business when the owner of a chain of Detroit area restaurants and clubs heard him and hired him immediately. That was the end of Randisi’s involvement in the family business and the start of a singing career that has literally taken him throughout the U.S. and to Europe where he has performed with big bands and symphony orchestras.
After lunch, Randisi visited RHS, where plans for the show were discussed. To say that he was impressed with the facility and the staff at the school would be an understatement. Randisi said he has performed shows in many facilities that did not compare with what we have right here at RHS, and that he is excited about the show. His reaction was summed up best by his comment, “This is a high school auditorium? Wow!”
Other stops included one at the old courthouse, which will be the site of the new RAM. There Randisi met with members of the museum’s fundraising committee who thanked him for his help in promoting the show.
After that, there was just one more stop before he left town. He visited the Freshman Center where he met the Rockford Community Children’s Choir and their director, Renee Vande Wege. He and the choir did a quick run-through of their song “High Hopes,” after which Randisi assured the kids that they would be the stars of the show.
At the end of the day, Randisi left town knowing that he would be performing in a community full of terrific people who have every reason to be proud of their history and the effort that is being made to do an even better job of preserving it though the creation of the new museum.
On Wednesday morning, Randisi made a call to Al Pratt, who served as his host during his visit. He wanted Pratt to make sure that he went to all of the great people he had met the day before to thank them for their time. Randisi said that, while he performs his show all over the country, it is often for someone who is just treating it as a business venture with personal profit as the motivation. He is very happy to be coming here to do it for good people, and to help a great cause.
The show promises to be a great one, with some surprises that will give it a truly “Rockford” twist. With your eyes closed, you might think you are listening to “Old Blue Eyes” himself, but it is Randisi, a friend of Rockford, presenting classic Sinatra hits naturally, authentically, respectfully and reminiscent of the originals, just the way you want to hear them.
For more information and for audio and video clips of some of Randisi’s performances, visit the show’s website at www.ramshow2012.com. Tickets for the show are still available and can be ordered online through the “Ticket Info” page on the website. If you like big band music and the classic music of “Old Blue Eyes,” you won’t want to miss this event.