University student gives Madison Square Garden a musical education
On Wednesday, Feb. 20, junior Erin Bellucci charmed all of Madison Square Garden, including singer Michael Bublé, with her talented rendition of the Etta James classic “At Last.” Afterward, video footage of the event went viral, and the story immediately reached the national nightly news cycle. Evidently, the tale of the serendipity leading up to the fateful moment is almost as stunning as the moment itself.
On a Sunday night in November, Bellucci’s older sister, Allison, a public-relations specialist, booked her a gig at The Drunken Horse in New York. Only about 25 people saw the relaxed performance of mixed pop hits and Bellucci’s original songs, but one woman was so taken back by the act that she told Bellucci to contact her if she wanted tickets to see her client perform.
Bellucci, enthusiastic about the praise, but sure that she would not recognize the band without first looking it up, finished her set before examining the business card. The name “Gemma” appeared on the front in gold lettering; on the back, “Executive Stylist for Michael Bublé.”
Three months later, not even the snow could stop Bellucci from attending the Michael Bublé concert; she even changed her train tickets to avoid weather delays because of a premonitory sense of excitement.
“Like, something feels right right now,” Bellucci says. “I told all my friends, ‘I’m buzzing, I’m just buzzing.’”
When the Bellucci sisters arrived at the box office at Madison Square Garden, they discovered that Gemma had left them tickets in section B, directly next to the catwalk. So when Bublé asked the crowd if anyone would like to sing their “shower song,” he noticed Bellucci and the girl she jokingly calls her “publisister” right away.
“A shower song is something you feel most comfortable singing, especially in the shower because that’s when you’re rocking out,” Bellucci says.
When Bellucci told Bublé that she wanted to sing “At Last,” the pianist began to play the song in its original key. Bublé told the audience not to be mean, “like Simon Cowell.” Bellucci took one shocked look back at her sister before confidently performing her rendition. Bublé sat down on the stage, clearly impressed. Videos of the moment present a personal moment in an utterly impersonal space.
“Talk about feeling validated in your field when someone you idolize was like, ‘That was really good,’” Bellucci says. “It was surreal.”
After the show, Gemma admitted to Bellucci that she had nothing to do with Bublé handing her the microphone.
By the next day, Ryan Seacrest, who attended the concert, praised Bellucci’s voice on Live with Kelly and Ryan. The ABC World News, The Today Show, Good Morning America and more soon followed.
“I think I’ve said the words ‘crazy’ and ‘lucky’ a thousand times,” Bellucci says.
Despite her sudden fame, Bellucci remains unpretentious about her relationship with music. As a high school student, she sang in her school’s jazz club and decided to pursue music education at the university, even though, at the time, she did not know how to read sheet music. Now, she plays guitar and ukulele, and has learned a plethora of other instruments through music classes. She sings in the Golden Blues, which she dubs “the nicest and oldest a cappella group on campus.”
A record deal has always interested Bellucci, who writes her own music, so she is in the process of sharing covers and original songs on her YouTube channel. She also recently taped a performance of an original song for Fox 29.
Whatever her future holds, Bellucci’s passion for teaching music is paramount.
“My parents are teachers and I got to grow up watching them really change lives,” Bellucci says. “If I can take music and make it into something that can change people’s lives, what could be better?”