Thursday, August 11, 2011

"If the only way you can follow your dream to paint is to paint your trashcan and put it on display outside your house, then paint your trashcan and put it on display," Gary Russo said after he finished belting out a dream of his own. A construction worker assigned to the 2nd Avenue subway project in New York City, Gary went to school for acting, but left "to get a real job."

Decades later, in his fifties, he's finally getting a chance to follow that old dream to be onstage. And better still, this time the world is watching. Nearly a million people have viewed the original Youtube video posted last week by blogger "fish31171". Today, camera crews from Germany and Tokyo have come to hear Gary croon Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin.

But that's not why Gary sings. Gary sings for New York and New Yorkers. "I'm here for you," he says after finishing 'Mack the Knife', tears welling in his eyes. "I'm here for this. For this city. I'm local. Thank you, all of you." And then, because we're all getting emotional over this humble, talented man and what he's all about, Gary quickly jokes, "You know, I'm the Justin Bieber of fifty-year-olds."

And then he surprised all of us. Asked by veteran news reporter Magee Hickey, who'd accompanied me to hear Gary sing, if Gary had an agent, he explained that he's "not here for that. I have a construction job to do, and I'm doing it. I just love to give back to New York."

Press play on the video above - and make sure you listen to Gary's advice for all of us - advice that he took, long ago, from his own father. Gary will leave you wondering - what is it you can do to follow your own dream?