Greg Myers knew that if he wanted to sound just like Hoboken native and famed singer Frank Sinatra, he had to practice. So, that’s exactly what he did.
Last Thursday marked the third time Myers had entered the annual Sinatra Idol contest in Hoboken, and it turned out that the third time was the charm.
Myers was crowned the winner of Hoboken’s annual Sinatra Idol contest along the waterfront on Sinatra Drive near Sinatra Park (sense the theme?).
The 14 contestants traveled from all across North America, as second place winner Rick Valiant flew in from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada for the contest.
“One day I said, ‘Why don’t we get them all together for a contest.’ ” – Geri Fallo
As for Myers, a management consultant from Plainfield, he was overwhelmed after being announced the winner.
In addition to winning a host of prizes from local shops, he will also perform at the Frank Sinatra Birthday Bash at the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank on Dec. 9.
“I’ve learned lessons from other contests over the years,” Myers said after the show. “I worked on my voice a little. My voice cracked last year during the contest, but this year I just relaxed and had fun.”
Steve Kazlauskas of Ridgefield, Ct., came in third place.
Hundreds of viewers
The event drew hundreds of residents, passing joggers, as well as many children who may not have even heard of Sinatra before the event on Thursday night.
Five judges assigned numerical scores (from one to five) for each singer and gave a brief review after each performance. The event was free and open to the public.
The noise of the Sinatra songs echoed off nearby residential buildings, and that was enough to bring at least one family to the park for the evening of entertainment.
“We could hear all the Sinatra songs from our window so we decided to come down,” said Eileen Weber of Hoboken, with her family nearby. “This is our first time and it really is a lot of fun.”
Weber added that her favorite Sinatra song is the 1969 hit, “My Way” which was written by Paul Anka, but made famous by Sinatra.
Kazlauskas performed “My Way,” and before he performed, he called the song “Sinatra’s anthem.”
“You need not stand and rise,” he said to the crowd.
While some residents discover the event accidentally, others make it a point to attend every year.
Carla Scrudato, a downtown resident, couldn’t pick a favorite Sinatra song.
“They’re all my favorite,” she said. “We come every year; the event really is marvelous.”
The Department of Cultural Affairs, headed by Geri Fallo, organizes the event.
“This is the fifth year we’ve done it and we seem to have it down,” Fallo said. “The prizes are all donated by local businesses.”
Fallo said performers always called her office saying they can perform Sinatra songs at events.
“One day I said, ‘Why don’t we get them all together for a contest?’ ” Fallo said.
Since that time, the contest has become a draw for contestants from all over the country, as well as the hundreds of residents and visitors who turn out annually for the show.
“The contestants just come out of the woodwork for it,” Fallo said. “It’s one of those things that since we built it, they always come.”
Once someone wins, they cannot come back and compete the next year.
Fallo said originally she worried Sinatra Idol would run out of contestants.
“It’s obvious now that we have enough contestants and they’ll always come,” Fallo said.
Myers can return next year not to perform, but to help crown a new Sinatra Idol champion.
The night finishes every year with all the singers in front of a series of microphones, serenading the crowd with the hit song “New York, New York” in front of a backdrop of the song’s namesake.
Ray Smith may be reached at RSmith@hudsonreporter.com