SLOAN COLUMN: Crooning keeps this 87-year-old going
The lobby of MUSC Health Florence Medical Center was filled with the crooning of such standards as “Fly Me to the Moon,” “My Way,” “You’ll Always Be the One I Love,” and “Don’t Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes.”
The guy showcasing his impressive pipes wasn’t Sinatra, or Martin, or Bennett, although if one closed his or her eyes it was not hard to imagine. The gentleman at the microphone, a self-proclaimed “street-savvy Italian kid from New York City,” is Bob Ammirati.
“I just love singing and performing,” said the 87-year old Ammirati. “It keeps me going.”
On this particular day Ammirati is singing in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month and in memory of his late wife, Rosann. Married to Bob for 57 years, Rosann died in 2015 following a battle with breast cancer.
“She was and will always be the love of my life,” said Ammirati.
He remembers singing “Let There Be Peace on Earth” at his beloved’s funeral mass at St. Anthony’s Catholic Church in Florence. Singing, he says, was therapeutic and helped him cope during one of the most trying times in his life.
Ammirati is no stranger to crooning or to the Florence area.
“I stared singing and boxing when I was 15,” he said.
Following a stint in the Army where he sang as part of the 7th Calvary Chorus, he returned to the Big Apple where he sang in numerous clubs and at weddings. He even cut a couple of demo records.
He and Rosann moved to Florence in 1963 when the company he worked for, EFCON, relocated to Darlington.
In 1982, he was named president and CEO of Nytronics, a manufacturing company in Darlington that has since closed.
Ammirati has performed at a handful of local establishments, including the Clay Pot, Wholly Smokin’ and Lula’s Coffee Co. He also sings at nursing homes and at St. Anthony’s.
He remembers playing his demo tape as an audition for Father Morley at St. Anthony’s shortly after he arrived in Florence.
“As he listened to the tape, he said, ‘That’s not you. That’s Frank Sinatra or Tony Bennett.’ I told him that it really was me and he said, ‘Okay, sing.’”
Despite his advanced age, Ammirati says he has no intention of stepping away from the mic anytime soon.
“This is what I do,” he insists. “Music has been my life. I love to sing. As long as I have a breath in my lungs, I’ll keep on singing.”