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Local jazz singer gets dream gig in NYC

After 25 years, Ken Slavin realizes lifelong goal in Big Apple

He took up singing at the age of 29 at a one-song gig at Dick’s Last Resort on the River Walk, but today, at 51, Ken Slavin is taking his rendition of "Mack the Knife" to what some feel is the best jazz club in New York City.

He will be singing a 70-minute set at the Metropolitan Room, a jazz venue noted for its superstar singers, as well as allowing newcomers a place to shine.

“It's one of those wonderful rooms where on any given night, you can see a famous star or an up-and-comer -- or a guy from Texas,” laughed Slavin, who is the first to say he was bowled over when he got the phone call from New York City.

It happened quite simply: the right person heard an internet radio station playing one of Slavin’s songs, who then contacted him on Facebook, then made a phone call, and finally booked him for Oct. 31 for the single show. 

Normally, singers need booking agents and a great deal of negotiations to get on the stage in a major club, but not in this case.

Considering that Slavin has been singing for his supper -- so to speak -- for nearly 25 years, and this is his first major-league booking, he is planning on videotaping the whole thing and hoping to parlay the event into future gigs.

It’s a long way from his beginnings on stage at Chris Madrid’s, trying to sing over the loudspeakers as hamburger orders were being called out.

His local fans, including Bexar County District Attorney Susan Reed and former Mayor Bill Thorton, have bought tickets, and are planning on filling the room that night.

"It's gotten to where so many San Antonio folks who are in New York now, or live here, are attending," Slavin said. "The Thortons are hosting a cocktail party one hour before my show in their high-rise apartment that has an unbelievable view of Manhattan."

Slavin is currently employed by Accion Texas in San Antonio and sings regularly at the Boardwalk Bistro and at clubs in Austin.

He is best known for his velvety voice in such classics such as "Embraceable You" and "Route 66," as well as his comedic offerings at Media Gridiron shows over the years.

For more information and to buys ticks for the upcoming show in New York, check out his page at Ken Slavin on Facebook.

For a list of recent stories Ursula Pari has done, click here.

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