7/16/2018





Yes, that is me, on stage, with Barry Manilow. My heart still soars when I say those words. Here's my story about that amazing night.

My mom is a huge fan of Barry and when we were little she would play his music (and John Denver and a few others) and sing and dance - when she was happy, which meant everyone was happy. So there was always a connection for me between his music and seeing my mom happy. In 2015 I gave my mom a ticket to see him in concert in Atlanta as her Mother's Day gift. I lived in Florida and for many reasons could not join her. We worked out a plan so she could go see him with a lovely friend. I knew someone with access to fan club benefits and she was able to help me get great seats on the floor in the first row of the second section. We're talking really great seats! Closer to the concert date, my friend realized that I was not going with my mom and was very disappointed. She knew I loved Barry almost as much as my mom and she started encouraging me to go...and then surprised me with a ticket at the last minute. It took a whole series of miracles to get off work, make travel arrangements, have someone take care of my dogs, and everything just fell into place.

On the way to the concert, I talked with my mom and her friend about reading Barry's book and how it was written exactly as I would imagine he would talk to us if we were to have a conversation with him. It was so sweet and sincere and humble. He was just a shy boy from Brooklyn and his story was inspiring and very honest. There was a series of mix-ups with my ticket and at one point, it didn't look like I would even get in, but as everything else had, this also finally resolved and the little miracles continued. My seat was on the very last row of the same section where my mom was on the front row. I was very happy to be at the concert and excited to see Barry, and so very thankful that everything worked out the way it did, but to be honest, sitting alone, waiting for the concert to start, I was overwhelmed by sadness. I was separated from my husband who had always promised to take me to see Barry and who always made everything more fun. In spite of all of our differences and the reasons we were not together, I sat there thinking about how much more fun this would be if he were there. Instead I was alone and surrounded by strangers. My friend with all the wonderful connections showed up and snapped me out of my sadness and told me that a seat had opened up in the front section and she had arranged for me to have it! One moment I was sitting in a pity party all alone about 30 rows back and the next minute I'm wearing a feather boa and sitting in the first row directly in front of the runway protruding from the center of the stage. I didn't think it could get much better! Any fan of Barry's knows that he brings someone on stage during his concerts and there was much conversation in that first section about who it would be and where to sit and we played musical chairs until just before the show started. Just being thankful and thrilled to be that close, I went where they told me and moved several times before ending up just to the right of the runway. I had been told which song he would be singing when he picked the lucky girl, but honestly I was so caught up in the moment that I could not tell you now what song he was singing! I knew as he walked toward the end of the runway that this was it. He was scanning the crowd, deciding who to pick, and our eyes met and I KNEW he was coming for me. I just knew it! The end of the runway lowered him to the floor and he walked toward me, held out his hand, and said, "Will you dance with me?" I took his hand and walked with him and we danced at the end of the runway. The first thing I could think to say to him as he held me close was, "You're fantastic!" I still don't know where that came from or why I said that, but I do remember that is what I said. He replied, "So are you!" and I was floating on a heavenly cloud of bliss. After we danced and he sang the rest of the song in my ear, he stopped and turned me toward the crowd and asked my name and where I was from and I don't even know what else, but we talked for a few minutes. That's when the wonderful stranger sitting in the seat beside mine took this picture. I'd never seen her before that night and we have not spoken since, but she texted me this picture and I will treasure it (and her) always. At the end of our little conversation, he said, "Everyone say thanks to Tammy" and I made a huge theatrical wave to the crowd and everyone cheered and clapped and he walked me back to my seat, the luckiest and happiest girl in the world.

On the way home, we talked again about the book and the shy boy from Brooklyn and it struck me that that was exactly how he had looked to me standing there holding out his hand, asking me to dance with him.