Jan Nigro

Singing Telegrams Gifts is brought to you by singing telegram man extraordinaire Jan Nigro. He has written over 3,000 singing telegrams for delighted recipients.

The Evolution of a Singing Telegram Man

I was born into a musical family and grew up in New York City. My father was a professional trumpet player in the big band era, and my sister was the late great singer/songwriter Laura Nyro.

I started playing piano at age 8, went to Music and Art High School in Manhattan, and majored in music at Hunter College. I began writing songs as a teenager and started studying guitar at age 18.

I’ve been a professional musician for over 30 years. I moved to Ithaca, New York, in 1981 — a town filled with talented musicians. Being new and not established professionally, I took what music work I could find.

One day, a woman who delivered balloons for birthdays and other occasions asked me if I’d do a singing telegram as part of a delivery. It was at Ithaca College, during a board meeting, for a guy's birthday.

I agreed. I gathered info about the guy from his co-workers and wrote a funny song. I showed up in a tux and sang. It worked out well (they laughed and I got paid), so I began to do more singing telegrams.

At first, I thought of it the way an actor thinks about waiting tables: a way to earn money while pursuing your passion, which for me was composing and playing music. But I soon found that doing singing telegrams was fascinating and delightful.

I did them for all kinds of people — bankers, professors, convenience store clerks, secretaries, actors, guys on construction sites, students, other musicians, hairstylists, a Nobel Prize winner, rich folks, poor folks... you name it, I did it!

Eventually I did over three thousand singing telegrams! I walked into homes, restaurants, classrooms, mansions, trailer parks, all kinds of businesses and sang to surprised recipients. I did them for birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, weddings, baby showers, Valentine’s Day, every occasion.

What I’ve always enjoyed about doing singing telegrams is being a messenger of good will from those hiring me to the recipient. And of course making people laugh is always fun. All the songs are personalized, and people seem to remember the event with great fondness. I’ve had people stop me in the street or in a store and tell me how much they loved a singing telegram I delivered to them ten or fifteen years earlier.

That’s my story as a singing telegram man, and I’m thrilled to now offer this online singing telegram service.

— Jan Nigro

Other Music Work

Jan’s musical career has been quite diverse. In 1989 he co-founded the nationally recognized, young people’s vocal group Vitamin L, with whom he has performed over 900 concerts. Jan is the songwriter for Vitamin L, and his award winning Vitamin L recordings contain uplifting, character building songs. See vitaminl.org for more info.

Jan has composed music for Disney and National Geographic, done background music for educational films, and has composed for musical theater.

Since 1999 he has served as Songwriter/Artist in Residence for the Hangar Theatre's Project 4 program in the Ithaca City School District.

Jan is the founder and musical director of the Ithaca, N.Y. based chorus, Mostly Motown, and has been leading this chorus since 1998.

He has been on the faculty of The Community School of Music and Arts, Ithaca, N.Y. as a guitar instructor since 1982. Jan played guitar on two of his sister’s Laura Nyro’s recordings, “Smile” and “Mother’s Spiritual.” Jan currently performs with various bands in Ithaca. And of course, there are the 3,000 plus singing telegrams he has composed!

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