The Washington Post

NPR’s Ari Shapiro leads double life as crooner with Pink Martini

Ari Shapiro with Storm Large and Pink Martini at the Kennedy Center. (Scott Suchman )

Who knew he could sing? Well, fans of Pink Martini, the cult “old-fashioned symphonic global pop” band from Portland, Oregon. Shapiro has been moonlighting with the group for two years and made his Washington debut Wednesday night at their concert with the National Symphony Orchestra. “I think everyone’s pretty pleased,” he told us after the performance.

Stereotypically tall, dark and handsome, Shapiro glided across the stage, crooning like a professional. “You look like a model for those people on the top of wedding cakes,” cracked singer Storm Large.

The Portland native, 32, was a teenage fan of the group, then got to know the musicians personally when he did a story about them. Founder Thomas Lauderdale heard Shapiro’s clear baritone (“fantastic, fantastic voice — it’s like butter,” he told us) at a party and invited the journalist to perform in 2009 at the Hollywood Bowl. He’s also recorded songs on two Pink Martini albums and done several live shows since — but never in D.C. in front of co-workers and friends.

Nervous? “Hugely!” Shapiro said with a laugh. “Until now, I’ve lived a double life. . . It’s far more nervewracking to do it here — but in good way, not a paralyzing way.”

No presidential coverage for Shapiro in the next few days — he’ll be performing through Saturday night.

Video: Pink Martini with NPR’s Ari Shapiro, Hollywood Bowl, 9-19-09


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