George A. Santino: A Seattle Crooner

Mick Carlon on the singer raised in Philadelphia and employed for 20 years at Microsoft

After a twenty year gig at Microsoft, George A. Santino has launched yet another fulfilling career—that of smooth crooner of the Great American Songbook. According to his website, he has “left the rat race for the Rat Pack.” His fine new cd, Come Fly With Me, a collection of standards associated with Frank Sinatra, is available from his website.

Says the Seattle-based singer: “I think I bring something back that has been missing. When Sinatra sang a song he also told a story. I think it’s important to understand the song you are singing and get that message across in an entertaining way. I think my life of growing up poor…and my physical and financial troubles early in life, allow me to bring a unique perspective to a song. When I sing, ‘That’s Life,’ I really know what it means to be knocked down multiple times and, more importantly, what it takes to keep getting up.”

Santino grew up in a Philadelphia housing project “where poverty and violence had a profound effect on his upbringing,” according to his website. A motivational speaker and writer, Santino will also be releasing his autobiography in 2013.

How did George exercise his singing muscle during his two decades at Microsoft? “I actually didn’t sing that much other than with the car radio or in the shower. Of course, if I was at my mother’s house for Christmas I had to sing. On my wedding anniversary, I would take my wife out to dinner at a place that had a piano bar so I could sing her a song. One time we were in Las Vegas and I asked the piano player if I could sing to my wife and he said it wasn’t allowed. When I placed a nice tip in his jar he quickly invited me up to sing a song.”

When asked about his singing idols, Santino replies: “I like Sinatra because he truly sings with feeling. I also like Dean Martin. One of my favorites as a kid was Elvis [Presley] because he was really doing something no one else had done before.”

How is his family reacting to his new career? “My kids get a kick out of it. My wife does remind me from time to time that I’m supposed to be retired, but then again, what is retirement if it isn’t doing something that you really enjoy?”

Although he enjoys recording—and this enjoyment can be heard on Come Fly With Me—Santino loves performing live. “Singing live is great because you get the instant feedback from the audience, and you quickly find out what is working. You can also interact, have some fun, and change things up.”

What does the future hold for George A. Santino? “I hope to take this singing career as far as I can—but the real goal is to have fun. If some day I’m singing in Vegas, that would be great. But if instead I’m singing in a little jazz club in Seattle, that’s cool, too. After all, the great thing about waiting to do this until after I retired is that I don’t have to do something to make money at it. I’m just doing what I think is fun and what I hope my fans would enjoy. Someone asked me why I was doing another cd [a Christmas album] so soon after I released the first one--that I should let that one sell for a while first. I replied that I set out to do a Christmas album in the first place and if I want it out this year, now is the time to do it. Besides, singing Christmas songs is fun. Even in July.”

George A. Santino—check him out. You won’t be sorry.

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