That’s the one word I would use for 2-time Grammy winning jazz artist, Chuck Mangione. He’s made the theme song for millions (no, really, he was commissioned to make the 1980 Winter Olympics song, “Give It All You Got,” instant classic), and has made (I’m guessing here) tons of money in the process. When he first came into the jazz club, he had a host escort him and his wife to their own dressing room. His dressing room had a gilded sign with his name in black and his band had a separate room from him. I was already a little nervous going in thinking I wouldn’t get to meet the man who made 2/5ths of the instrumentals I constantly have on rotation (in order: “Summer Madness” by Kool and the Gang, “Feels So Good” by him, “Give It All You Got” by him, “Victory (Instrumental)” by Puffy feat. Biggie and Busta Rhymes, and “I Can’t Help It” by Grover Washington Jr.).
Yet, after performing for almost 2 hours, his awaiting fans were led upstairs near his dressing room. The rest of the band members walked by, and we gave them props, a couple of enthusiasts asking for autographs from them. Other than that, the crowd that clogged the staircase heavily anticipated him. People from all over the world, people who brought his “Feels So Good” album cover encased in a glass frame, people who knew him from his humble beginnings in Rochester, NY and lived across the street from him, and people who always loved that “one tune” and loved the artist attached to it. This would be enough to make any artist into a diva. Not so with this man.
As soon as I shook his hand, I knew I was meeting someone who never lost his sense of self. He had a soft handshake, and he’s probably a good 5’5″ … with platform shoes. When he breaks out his instrument, he’s taller than the rest of us on stage. And what’s more, he actually wanted to sign autographs and take pictures with us. I’m sure he’s heard and seen it all when it comes to fans, but he was utterly patient, even with him being a little tired. Those of us who deem ourselves popular have a lot to learn from that example, in the blogosphere and real life as well.
jose, who will see Juan Luis Guerra and Alejandro Fernandez tomorrow at Madison Square Garden …