Tito Batista and his band, The Black Rose Orchestra, will bring a blend of pop hits, beloved standards and Latin favorites—including “Besame Mucho,” “Volare” and “Ojos Verdes”—to Bay Street Theater on Saturday, September 24. They will also showcase songs from Tito’s popular CD, Hey Now. Dan’s Papers had the pleasure of speaking with the smooth-voiced singer as he told us about his band, music, who he dreams of sharing the stage with, and what he’s most looking forward to at Bay Street.
How did you first become involved in music?
I’ve been involved in music since I was a little boy. I fell in love with music. I was very successful in the music publishing business for many years, and then due to the proliferation of digital technology, it kind of wiped out that whole business. So I had the opportunity to go back to my roots. My wife was very supportive, and I’m having a lot of fun with it. I was able to go back to what I love the most, and continue the journey.
What are some of your favorite songs to perform?
I do a couple of songs by the Buena Vista Social Club. I love doing “Besame Mucho.” I love Engelbert Humperdinck, Lou Rawls and Frank Sinatra. There are so many great singers. [Andrea] Bocelli is one of my favorites. In fact, the “Besame Mucho” arrangement that I do is the Bocelli arrangement. I just love music, and if I can cut it, and it’s within my range, and it moves me, then I love singing it.
What makes Tito and The Black Rose Orchestra unique?
What makes us unique as an orchestra and a group is that I perform original music. I sing in Spanish and Italian, and we do American and Latin classics. It makes us very different from everybody else, and the amazing part is that my whole orchestra is a bunch of young guys. My trombone player, for an example, just got into Juilliard, and their jazz department only accepts one musician for each category [of instrument]. They’re all amazing players. I’m really excited to be working with these kids.
What do you enjoy the most about performing live?
The audience—I love making the audience smile. I don’t travel with an ego at all. I think God gives us all something to do. This is what I do, and I enjoy the audience. I perform better when I have a good audience, and I love hanging with the guys and talking music, exchanging the different things we went through in the industry and just having fun.
If you could sing with anyone, who would it be?
Tony Bennett. He’s definitely top shelf! Tom Jones, Engelbert Humperdinck and Tony Bennett—those three guys are still great performers. It gives me the incentive, and they’re really doing a heck of a job—their voices actually got better.
What are you most looking forward to at Bay Street?
I decided to do the theater in Sag Harbor because we love that theater. I’m more interested in the theaters and the high society type of performances where people actually sit there to listen, and Bay Street Theater is very classy. I’d rather do fewer gigs and have more quality gigs. That’s a quality venue. I’m also looking forward to my new album hopefully being completed by the end of this year or early next year. Where there is music, there is love.
Tito Batista and The Black Rose Orchestra perform at Bay Street Theater, 1 Bay Street in Sag Harbor on Saturday, September 24 at 8 p.m. For more information and to purchase tickets visit baystreet.org or call 631-725-9500.