Toni Harp is no stranger to the microphone. In the past months, she has tackled everything from violent assaults in the city’s streets to Shakespeare. But as she crooned a sweet version of Irving Gordon’s “Unforgettable” (endeared to us by Nat King Cole) in a duet with top DIxwell cop Sgt. Sam Brown, a small but feisty audience got the chance to see a different side of New Haven’s mayor.
Harp’s moment in the spotlight Tuesday night came as part of a star-studded lineup – at least, politically speaking – at Karaoke Heroes on Crown Street, where the Connecticut Black Democratic Caucus hosted a “Karaoke and Wings” fundraiser supporting Denise Nappier‘s reelection as state treasurer. In addition to helping to raise money, a cast of local politicos raised their voices literally to sing Nappier’s praises. About 50 people showed up to add around $2,500 to Nappier’s campaign coffers. Nappier, the state’s highest elected African-American official, is seeking a fifth four-year term.
“I may be flat on singing, but I am not on managing your money,” Nappier announced to claps, cheers and laughs between the evening’s musical numbers. “If we do not want to get shortchanged as the economy rebounds, then we are going to have to pull the vote out. I know that a lot of our folks have been hurting. But I can tell you, as someone that manages the money, that our state can now see a path forward. But we can not lose sight of one thing. Who do you think is more inclined to address our needs at the state Capitol and in the halls of Congress? To lift people up ... and build a better tomorrow? It’s Democrats, and that’s why I’m running.”
“We are willing to go do karaoke around the state to get you elected. It’s an honor,” said Jackie James, New Haven’s director of small and minority business development. James took the mic for a duet with city street outreach worker Doug Bethea for a soulful rendition of Atlantic Starr’s “Secret Lovers.” Click on the video to watch it and check out James’ powerful singing voice.
“It’s fun, addictive and good for you,” said city youth services chief Jason Bartlett (pictured), who suggested the event to Nappier’s fundraising manager. “We helped a small New Haven business today, introduced people [to it] who wouldn’t otherwise come here, and had a great time.”
“It’s the perfect venue,” Nappier said of Karaoke Heroes, which opened in 2012. “We raised some dollars, of which I am sorely in need, and we had fun.”
“The next time,” she added “I’ll come prepared to sing.”