Entertainment gala on Jan. 31 to benefit Lifestyles for the Disabled
Tickets for Al Lamberts 50th anniversary celebration are $100 per person, or $125 for a limited number of preferred-seating options at tables for 10 and 12 individuals. Reservations are available by calling 347-215-4855.
STATEN ISLAND, NY — Singer Al Lambert changed entertainment history on Staten Island in the 1960s when his band, Al Lambert and the Corporation, performed the top-40 broadcast radio hits of the day. Other local bands at the time were still playing music from the 1940s. Since then, Lambert’s repertoire has never ceased to satisfy.
Today, as the Mariners Harbor native celebrates 50 years in the music industry, he is a bonafide legend on Staten Island. Over the years, his he and band have provided more than 5,000 live performances, including stints at Carnegie Hall, the Waldorf Astoria, the original Copacabana, and other historic entertainment venues.
The Staten Islander has opened shows for numerous celebrities, including Pat Cooper; Chuck Mangione; the Shirelles; Sha Na Na, and Rodney Dangerfield, who once asked Lambert to travel on the road with him. The offer was flattering, but Lambert declined.
“He [Dangerfield] was upset with me because I turned him down,” Lambert said. “But my life was etched out between managing Staten Island Toyota, teaching during the day at the Willowbrook State School and performing with my band four to five nights a week. I had a house, two kids — there was no way.”
In the early days, Lambert didn’t anticipate a lifelong show business career. His intention was to present good quality entertainment to his audience “one gig at a time,” while utilizing his talents along the way to assist worthy causes.
Lambert does not define himself by his vocational accomplishments, but rather by giving back to his community. During his music career, he has help raised more than $1 million for Staten Island charities.
Lifestyles for the Disabled
To mark his 50th anniversary in the entertainment industry, Lambert will continue his philanthropic tradition with yet another fund-raising musical celebration.
The dinner show will benefit Lifestyles for the Disabled, a locally based not-for-profit agency that strives to provide the intellectually disabled with realistic work settings and experiences within the Staten Island community.
Lifestyles’ Executive Director Richard Salinardi worked with Lambert when the two were teachers at the former Willowbrook State School.
“I know Richard is dedicated to Lifestyles and I admire the benefits he and his team provide to clients of the organization,” Lambert said.
The event will take place on Jan. 31, at Li Greci’s Staaten, 697 Forest Ave., West Brighton. The showbiz gala includes a four-course dinner and open bar, which begins at 7 p.m. The entertainment will kick off at 8:30 p.m. with comedian Jeff Norris.
The evening’s musical performance will combine the band’s longtime and current musicians, including Lambert and co-vocalists Lenore, Lambert’s wife, and Laura Lambert, his daughter, along with guitarist Terry Fabrizio; bassist Paul Fiorino; drummer Billy Raiola, and Lambert’s four keyboard players – Lynn Portas, Janice Friedman, Vinny Ruggieri and Stu Waters – who complement Lambert’s two genres of musical interpretation: Pop/rock and jazz.
“After 50 years of anything — life, marriage, a job, music — celebrating is natural. And being in the party business, I feel I have to celebrate,” said Lambert.
STARTED AS A YOUNGSTER
Lambert was born into a musical environment. He started singing at age 5 at PS 44 and St. Michael’s Church Choir, both in his native community of Mariners Harbor.
“I came from a musical family but they weren’t musicians,” Lambert said. “We just enjoyed singing day and night. As a kid in the 1950s, we would visit one of my uncles who had a record-making machine; we would sing and make records. This was before audiotapes were invented.”
Although he had no formal music training at the time, Lambert formed his first band in the mid-1960s, joining with three of his closest friends, Charlie Costa, Tom Rybicki and John Trentecosta. The group began as Al Lambert and the Corporation; but after a couple of informal name changes, the band evolved into the Al Lambert Orchestra, with the addition of bassist Fiorino. Today, Fiorino is the longest-standing member of the band, with 43 years under his belt.
“People who join my band stay pretty long,” Lambert said.
The group survived during an era that witnessed the slow demise of the musicians union’s ability to control entertainment in catering halls, allowing for DJs at much lower pay scales to take the place of live musicians, Lambert said.
“Of course that hurt the live music business and a lot of guys left the business because of that. I DID NOT,” he emphasized. “I chose to stick it out because it’s something I love.”
Very much an innovator, Lambert received the distinguished New York “State Institution Teacher of the Year Award” in 1971. He earned the honor as a result of establishing the first chorus ever comprised of special children — using two- and three-part harmony and counterpoint — in the United States.
“It was a beautiful thing,” said Salinardi of Lifestyles for the Disabled, recalling his work with Lambert at the former Willowbrook State School. “Al is someone who had dedicated himself to music and utilized his talent in a positive way by working with the developmentally disabled. It was a fantastic achievement. He is the musical voice for the developmentally disabled.”
In 1986, Lambert directed the “Lady of the Harbor” chorus along with Island-based composer Carmine Giovinazzo. The chorus’ namesake ballad became the theme song for CNN TV’s 1986 Liberty Celebration, resulting in repeated worldwide CNN broadcasts of Giovinazzo, Lambert and the chorus performing the song.
A dedicated member and past president of the South Shore Rotary Club, Lambert is the founder and director of the South Shore Rotary Chorus, which over the past 16 years has grown from 20 to 60 members and performed in venues throughout the tri-state area.
With a 50-year career as a singer, band leader, choral director, theater producer, record producer, music manager, educator, business manager, and much more, Lambert shows no sign of slowing down. And he doesn’t plan on retiring anytime soon.
“When I look at Mick Jaggar, Rod Stewart, Billy Joel and megastars my age who are still working in the business, they prove to be my heroes because they show us that performing is ageless,” Lambert said.
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Media Contact: Barton Horowitz