Music man

Ed­die Bruce

From the time he was a little boy, Ed­die Bruce knew what he wanted to do.

“I think I fell in love with per­form­ing when I got my par­ents and grand­par­ents to laugh at whatever I was do­ing to en­ter­tain them in our liv­ing room,” said Bruce, who was raised in North­east Phil­adelphia.

And things only got bet­ter when at the age of 6 he was taken to the old Lat­in Casino to cel­eb­rate his birth­day.

“The Three Stooges were per­form­ing and when they fin­ished their act, I was ready to leave, un­til I heard a drum roll and the an­noun­cer presen­ted the star of the show — Miss Ella Fitzger­ald. At the time, I didn’t know what an Ella Fitzger­ald was,” Bruce said with laughter in his voice. “But once she opened her mouth and began to sing, I found the mu­sic I would al­ways love.”

And that love has re­mained with this mu­sic man ever since. On Oct. 11-13, at Ve­r­i­zon Hall of the Kim­mel Cen­ter, he’ll be ap­pear­ing with the new Philly POPS, un­der the bat­on of mu­sic dir­ect­or Mi­chael Kra­jew­ski. The na­tion­ally re­cog­nized dir­ect­or de­cided to cel­eb­rate the event, which co­in­cides with Colum­bus Day week­end, in a pro­gram with the theme “Viva Phil­adelphia,” a cel­eb­ra­tion of the city’s rich Itali­an her­it­age. Per­formers will pay trib­ute to such le­gendary sing­ers as Mario Lanza, Frank Sinatra, An­drea Bo­celli and Tony Ben­nett.

Bruce, 60, will be one of the pro­gram’s guest artists, and will pay homage to Ben­nett. One of the premi­er in­ter­pret­ers of Tony Ben­nett’s mu­sic, Bruce will sing sev­er­al sig­na­ture tunes Ben­nett has per­formed all over the world.

“I’ll be singing If I Ruled the World, one of the first songs of his I ever learned when I was just 13. I’ll also do a med­ley of The Good Life and I Wanna Be Around. And then I’ll end with How Do You Keep The Mu­sic Play­ing, the song Tony ended every show with,” Bruce ex­plained.

When asked what in­spired his many trib­utes to 87-year-old Ben­nett, Bruce replied, “I have so much re­spect for the man and his com­mit­ment to the Great Amer­ic­an Song­book. His mu­sic­al in­teg­rity has nev­er wavered, and his longev­ity is astound­ing.”

In ad­di­tion to singing Ben­nett’s mu­sic, Bruce has carved out his own niche in the mu­sic busi­ness. Audi­ences know Bruce as the ori­gin­al host of the pop­u­lar Dan­cin’ on Air TV show and his many ap­pear­ances on the Al Al­berts Show­case. He’s also been a fre­quent guest talk show host on WWDB-FM, a host of nu­mer­ous loc­al cel­eb­ra­tions, and one of the city’s most pop­u­lar bandlead­ers for years. With a rich and di­verse ca­reer, Bruce said the nuts and bolts of it all has been play­ing for nu­mer­ous wed­dings and bar/bat mitzvahs.

“And I look at that as my leg­acy. I’ve been play­ing for gen­er­a­tion after gen­er­a­tion of people, so much so that when I bump in­to people they tell me they’re in­stantly back on the dance floor at their wed­ding. What a won­der­ful feel­ing.”

In fact, for Bruce, everything he does seems won­der­ful.

“I love what I do, and it’s more about the work and the mu­sic than the show busi­ness part of it. As long as I’m singing, I don’t care what else is hap­pen­ing. I live for that mo­ment.”

For times and tick­et in­form­a­tion, call 215-893-1999. ••

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