Staten Island

MTA Bus Driver Who Self-Taught Spanish Sings Mariachi in Reality Competition Show

NBC Universal, Inc.

It was a surreal moment for a New York City bus driver when he walked out on stage to sing in a reality show competition on Spanish language TV.

Patrick Shannon is an Irish guy from Staten Island who didn't grow up speaking Spanish but he was exposed to Latin music when he worked as a recruiter for the Marines in Brooklyn. He was singing songs in Spanish before he taught himself how to speak it.

"One day I said, 'I wanna sing this music.' And some guy we were hanging out with said, 'it’s impossible you’re Irish you don’t even speak Spanish,'" Shannon recalled. "One thing you never say to a Marine is that something is impossible because we do the impossible every day.”

Shannon sings everything from Merengue to bachata to Mariachi. He later got a job with the MTA and decided he also wanted to sing professionally. So he entered to sing in "Tengo Talento, Mucho Talento," a popular talent show on Estrella TV. He surprised the judges with his ballads and was able to make it to the semi-finals.

"They called me and took me to California for the elimination round and I got the same reaction from the judge like, 'oh ok, goofy little white fella,' and I sang and the lady was like 'wow," Shannon tells NBC New York. "Everyone was like 'holy cow.'”

Not only were the judges shocked by his ability to sing authentically in Spanish but to learn that his day job is a bus operator for the MTA.

"I got the job with the city and it’s the greatest job on the planet for me. I love it I go every day. It’s just a great job but now I’m kinda balancing both.”

His wife, who’s Puerto Rican, says she felt his passion the moment they met. "I was like oh my God this man could sing, he’s cute he’s a keeper. I’m keeping him," said Nivia Connolly.

Shannon has to fly back to Los Angeles on Wednesday to compete in the final round. But when in New York, he still drives the bus every day. He has even represented the MTA singing the national anthem for the Met opening day game.

He says his dream is to get noticed at this competition, get a record deal and sing full time one day.

"Once the music starts that’s my world, so that’s who I am, I’m super comfortable," Shannon said. Whether he wins the competition or not, he says any day he gets to stretch his voice and make people happy is a victory.

"If tomorrow’s my last day to sing for the next three years I’m gonna enjoy every second of it.”

Copyright NBC New York
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