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. ••