Tag Archives: singer

Star of Queens: Debra Toscano, actress, singer and voice teacher

| asuriel@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Debra Toscano

PERSONAL BACKGROUND: Debra Toscano is originally from Long Island but has resided in Bayside for about 15 years. She comes from a musical background with a father who worked as a music teacher and she had a lot of early exposure to the music industry. She has one older sister, who is also in the music industry as a piano player and drummer.

PROFESSIONAL BACKGROUND AND CAREER: Toscano is a professional singer and actress who works as a music teacher in Frank Toscano Music School in Astoria, which is owned by her father. He has owned the school for over 50 years, and Toscano currently teaches there as a vocal coach. She is also working on movie called “Bohemia,” which will feature her own original screenplay and begins filming in January.

CONTRIBUTION TO THE COMMUNITY: Toscano brightens the day of hospital patients by visiting with the cast of her last film project, a crime drama dubbed “Snitches.” They created a program called Snitches Give Back to visit both children and adults in local hospitals, talking with patients, signing autographs, and giving out headshots to bring cheer into the lives of patients.

BIGGEST CHALLENGE: Toscano says her biggest challenge as an actress is getting consistent work and locking in a gig. While acting has a glamorous image to those outside the profession, finding good acting parts and doing good work can be difficult for performers.
“When you’re in one gig you’re always looking to secure the next one,” she said. “Booking the work is always the biggest challenge to keep yourself motivated.”

GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT: Toscano is most proud of singing the national anthem for major sporting events including games for the New York Jets and Giants, and the U.S. Open.
“That’s one of the greatest things I’ve ever done because it’s a huge honor to sing the national anthem.”


Singer Patti LaBelle to perform at Queens College

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Kupferberg Center for the Arts


After a successful run on “Dancing with the Stars,” legendary singer Patti LaBelle will be performing at the Kupferberg Center for the Arts at Queens College on Sunday, Oct. 18, at 7 p.m.

With chart-topping hits such as “New Attitude,” “Lady Marmalade,” “If Only You Knew” and “If You Asked Me To,” LaBelle has made herself a household name during a career that has lasted more than 50 years.

The singer has been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the Apollo Hall of Fame and the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame, and has sold more than 50 million records worldwide.

Her Oct. 18 performance at Queens College is her only performance in the borough this year. Tickets will range from $40 to $115.

For tickets and more information, click here.


Astoria puppet makes it to next round of ‘America’s Got Talent’

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo by Eric Liebowitz/NBC

One unique Astoria native wowed three out of four judges with more than just his voice on the season premiere of “America’s Got Talent” Tuesday night.

Ira, a 32-year-old singer, was one of the contestants to take the stage on the reality competition show which kicked off its 10th anniversary season on NBC.

Along with his tunes, one thing makes Ira stands out from other competitors – he’s a puppet.

According to Ira, he grew up in Astoria and lived there for about 29 years before deciding to make the move to Los Angeles with his mother, who wanted to chase her dreams of being a singer. However, the dream then became Ira’s and after just singing as a favorite pastime, he decided to take it to the big stage.

“I thought it would be a great platform to not only share my singing with the world but also profess my love for Mel B,” Ira said about the decision to audition for “America’s Got Talent.” “I think she’s the most beautiful thing.”

During his performance, in which you never see the puppeteer who gives the puppet life, Ira chose to sing Joe Cocker’s “You Are So Beautiful” specifically for the former Spice Girl Mel B, who judges the show together with Howard Stern, Heidi Klum and Howie Mandel.

His performance received a standing ovation from audience members and smiles from all four judges. His mother, a lavender-colored puppet, was also present watching her son perform while standing backstage with host Nick Cannon.

Mandel told Ira that although he wasn’t the best singer in the world he did move him and the audience with his performance.

Fellow judge Stern also agreed that Ira’s performance moved everyone listening to him sing and even gave him an idea on what to do if he won the $1 million at the end of the show.

“Like Howie said you might not be the best singer but you know some people move us. I’d love to see you win a million dollars and move out of that apartment with your mother and stop rubbing her big feet,” Stern said. “You provided us with something that we love here on ‘America’s Got Talent’ and that is romance. Mel B was loving it.”

Although the former Spice Girl got out of her seat and took the stage to give Ira a kiss, she was the only judge of the four to give the singer a no when it came down to making the decision of moving him to the next round.

“Ira, it was a lovely kiss, but I’m going to have to say no,” she said.

Her no was met with boos from the audience and made Ira look down in disappointment. However, although Ira said he was heartbroken that “the love of his life” didn’t give him the answer that he wanted, he walked off the stage hoping he has the chance to change Mel B’s mind in the next round.

“It was scary and then I saw her sitting down there, behind her unilluminated X and she was gorgeous and then it was only she and I,” Ira said. “She didn’t give me the yes that I wanted but it’s the challenge for me to win her heart and get her approval.”

The next round, which will be judge elimination, is set to air in July.


Jamaican singer Mavado surprises kids at South Ozone Park school

| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Salvatore Licata

Children at a public school in South Ozone Park got a special gift this holiday season.

Mavado, a famous Jamaican singer, visited the school on Wednesday not only to perform for the students, but to also spread some knowledge of his own.

“You are the men and women of tomorrow,” he said to the crowd of kids as they were screaming and clapping in awe. “School is important. Make sure you stay in school.”


The event took place at the J.H.S 226 Virgil I. Grissom school, located at 120-10 Rockaway Blvd. Children at the school who were on good behavior and had perfect attendance up to this point in the year got to see him.

He performed his hit song, “So Special,” for the children and had them sing along, expressing how special each and everyone of them are.


Mavado hails from Jamaica. He has performed songs with singers and groups such as G-Unit, Nicki Minaj and Drake, among others. One of his latest hits was titled “Give It All to Me,” featuring Nick Minaj.

He said it is important for celebrities to give back to children who look up to them because they will soon be the leaders of the world.

“Children are the future,” he said. “They listen to our music and look up to us and will be the men and women leaders in the future, so it is very important [to give back].”


Whitney Houston funeral: mourners pay tribute to legendary singer at Newark church

| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Whitney Houston funeral: mourners pay tribute to legendary singer at Newark church

The silver casket bearing Whitney Houston glistened Saturday inside her old Newark church, where a star-studded crowd bid farewell to the departed diva with the divine voice.

“What becomes of our broken hearts?” asked her “Bodyguard” co-star Kevin Costner in a moving memorial. “Whitney returns home today to the place where it all began.”

Read More: New York Daily News


Timothy Cardinal Dolan receives red hat from Pope Benedict in Vatican City

Timothy Cardinal Dolan says his new red hat from Pope Benedict XVI is a gift for New York.

The city’s newly-elevated Catholic leader was smiling from cheek to cheek Saturday after receiving a gold ring and red silk biretta from the pontiff inside St. Peter’s Basilica inVatican  City.

Read More: New York Daily News
Cocaine found on capsized cruise ship captain’s hair, lawyers for survivors say
A group representing survivors of the capsized Costa Concordia cruise ship say traces of cocaine were found on a sample of the captain’s hair but not within the hair strands or in his urine — which would have indicated he had used the drug.

Italian consumer protection group Codacons said Saturday it has asked prosecutors investigating Captain Francesco Schettino to order another test.

Read More: New York Post


DOE To Review 1,000 Cases Against School Staff Following Latest Sex Abuse Charges

The city Department of Education is promising to make major changes in disciplinary policy following a string of arrests of employees for inappropriate acts with children.

Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott outlined the changes in a letter sent home to parents Friday.

Read More: NY 1


Spit hits fan in teach spat

 A veteran Queens math teacher was yanked from the classroom yesterday after a cellphone video posted online showed an apparent confrontation with a student.

Department of Education officials said they are investigating 19-year veteran David Pecoraro, a vocal union leader at Beach Channel HS in Far Rockaway, on allegations of corporal punishment.

Read More: New York Post


Liu Fundraiser Pleads Not Guilty To Wire Fraud Charges

Xing Wu Pan, a major fundraiser for City Comptroller John Liu, pleaded not guilty to conspiracy and wire fraud charges during his arraignment in Downtown Manhattan on Saturday.

Prosecutors say Oliver Pan told an undercover FBI agent he would use straw donors to funnel $16,000 in over-the-limit contributions to the comptroller’s 2013 campaign.

Read More: NY 1


Al Sharpton’s SUV impounded at La Guardia Airport

Can I get a witness?

The Rev. Al Sharpton tried to move heaven and earth yesterday to keep his SUV from being towed at La Guardia Airport — but no amount of preaching could stop Port Authority cops from impounding the vehicle.

An officer rolled up on the 2008 Lincoln Navigator at around 2 p.m. outside the Delta and US Airways terminal as the MSNBC host’s driver waited to pick him up in a clearly marked “no standing” zone, said PA Police spokesman Al Della Fave.

Read More: New York Post


Racist headline after Jeremy Lin, Knicks lose prompts quick apology from ESPN

ESPN is apologizing for an offensive headline posted after Jeremy Lin and the Knicks fell to the Hornets Friday night, ending a dazzling 7-game win streak.

The headline, “Ch-k in the armor” was up for about 30 minutes before being pulled down, ESPN said in a statement, as the controversy continued to grow in volume on Saturday.

Read More: New York Daily News

Diva tribute held in VIP Room

| photographers@queenscourier.com


Singer JC entered residents recently with her diva tribute on Friday, November 25 in the Country Club’s VIP Room. During the revue, JC performed songs made famous by Cher, Judy Garland, Barbara Streisand, Bette Midler, Celine Dion and Aretha Franklin, among others.

To view more photos, see the North Shore Towers Courier’s December issue!


Queens’ Morning Roundup – 11/18/2011: Deadly Woodside House Fire

| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Deadly Woodside House Fire

A fire that broke out inside a house in Woodside early Friday morning claimed the life of one woman and injured four other people. The FDNY says the fire was reported at 1:15 a.m. at a two and one-half story house on 61st Street between Woodside Avenue and 43rd Avenue. Read More: Fox News

Queens Thanksgiving Zombie Walk set  to invade streets of Astoria

When hundreds of zombies take to the streets of Astoria this weekend to feed on the flesh of human victims, it won’t be an apocalypse as much as a fantasy come to life. The first annual Queens Thanksgiving Zombie Walk on Saturday is just the latest crawl to capitalize on the growing craze for everything undead and supernatural. Read More: Daily News

Queens Singer Sues Management Company for Defamation

A Queens singer who has worked with the likes of Britney Spears has filed an $18 million lawsuit against her management company for allegedly trashing her as a racist trollop. In her Manhattan Supreme Court suit, Annet Artani says that instead of furthering her career, SWAP Management portrayed her as a lazy bimbo whose “constant offerings of sexual favors for a recording contract caused her to lose much credibility with some of the music community.” Read More: New York Post

St. John’s And Hofstra Renew Queens-Long Island Rivalry On Friday

St. John’s will take to the road for the first time this season on Friday as it travels just a half an hour east on the LIE to face in-state opponent, Hofstra. St. John’s and Hofstra have not played each other since 2005, but Friday’s contest is the 15th game between the two schools. Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m. at the Mack Sports Complex. Read More: Red Storm Sports

News from the Occupy Movement – 200 Are Arrested as Protesters Clash With the Police

Thousands of protesters across the country flooded streets, squares, bridges and banks on Thursday, snarling traffic and often clashing with the police in a show of support for the Occupy Wall Street movement, two months to the day after the demonstration began. In Lower Manhattan, protesters tossed aside metal barricades to converge again on Zuccotti Park after failing in an attempt to shut down the New York Stock Exchange. Read More: New York Times

Flushing resident dies in Long Island Hit and Run


Authorities say a Long Island man is charged with hit-and-run following an accident that killed a bicyclist from Stony Brook University. The accident occurred around 9:45 p.m. Thursday in Stony Brook. Suffolk County police identified the victim as 21-year-old Seong Hoon Baek of Flushing. Read More: Wall Street Journal