Tenor Daniel Rodriguez first gained fame as the New York policeman who sang "God Bless America" after Sept. 11 at memorial events and on television.
He will perform a mix of Broadway, classical and pop with his New Zealand-born wife, soprano Marla Kavanaugh, in a romantic concert Monday at the Turlock Community Theatre as part of the Turlock Concert Association series.
"The show is boy meets girl," he said in a recent phone interview. "It tells the story of how we met two singers on different roads who came together in a beautiful place in New Zealand."
The couple will be accompanied by the Jesse Lynch Jazz Trio and will be joined onstage for at least one song by their 4-year-old daughter Alexandra.
It's Rodriguez's second appearance in the area in less than a month. He performed in January at Modesto's Gallo Center for the Arts with the New York Tenors.
Rodriguez, 48, is the son and grandson of tenors and has sung since childhood. In his teen years, he studied music at the American Youth Repertory Company in Manhattan. At age 17, he performed at Carnegie Hall.
While music was always his passion, he took a variety of different jobs. To support his first wife and two older children (now in their 20s), he worked as a cook, caterer, taxi driver and postal worker before joining the New York City police force and becoming one of the department's designated National Anthem singers.
His life changed forever on Sept. 11, 2001. "I was at Ground Zero when the towers came down," he said. "I saw the tragedy, I lost friends; I saw things people should never have to see in their lives. I held onto faith and to music to become the person I am today. I stand for something positive that rose out of a tragedy."
He began receiving so many invitations to perform that he took a leave of absence for a couple of years from the police department. Finally in 2004, the police commissioner told him he should quit and pursue his dream. "He said 'This is what you're supposed to be.' "
He is honored that he has been able to bring comfort to people. He has sung on "Oprah," "Larry King Live," "Live! With Regis and Kelly" and other TV shows. It surprises him that some think of him as an icon.
"I'm a regular guy who has been given an extraordinary gift and a blessed gift," he said.
He met Kavanaugh in the early 2000s, but the two didn't start dating until years later because both were involved in other relationships. They married in 2008.
He is grateful that he and his wife and their daughter can be together almost all of the time something that wasn't possible in his first marriage. He particularly appreciates the chance to spend so much time with his daughter. "If I were to describe the perfect life for me, this would be it," Rodriguez said. "I'm extremely blessed to have her 24-7 and to watch her grow. I don't want to miss anything."
His goal with his music career is to continue to inspire others. "I feel like I have a ministry, I have a calling," he said. "I'm not preachy, but I do talk about what should be positive in the world. My message is usually God and country. I think that's something that will sustain me as a substantial artist in the world. We will always need that."
WHAT: Daniel Rodriguez and Marla Kavanaugh
WHERE: 7:30 p.m. Monday
WHEN: Turlock Community Theatre, 1574 E. Canal Drive
TICKETS: $25 adults, $15 students
CALL: (209) 668-1456 or (209) 668-3627