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Aline Wisher   Chairman                            Last updated 01/06/16            Hit Counter
Email address:   AlineWisher@olp.net
Last updated 01/06/16 

We are looking forward to seeing YOU at our 55th Reunion!

Date:    September 17, 2011

Place:    Tulsa Elks Lodge at 5335 South Harvard

Entertainment:
For the night the feature entertainer will be Luigi

Tulsa crooner Luigi Balletto CHS 1956 Class Reunion Entertainer

For three years now, Balletto, a 73-year-old known for his dozen years crooning at the Camelot Inn, sings his upbeat cover tunes by the likes of Frank Sinatra, Al Jolson. It could be said, his melodies slip right past age to carry people back in time - Twenty years. Forty. Sixty. Seventy. Faster and faster they travel. For as long as the melodies collapse time, you feel young again, dancing with a lover, and grinning in a vivid memory finally returned. Then the song ends, so Balletto plays another.  A smiling Balletto replied, "I love you."  

 

 

 

 

Balletto likes to say y'all, but he was born in Toronto , Canada , in 1937. He first sang on stage at age 3, and then became a professional singer at age 10. In 1955, a 17-year-old Balletto arrived in the U.S. looking for fame. Then he came to Tulsa in 1963. Two years later, Balletto and pianist Joey Harlan performed at the Camelot Inn when it opened on Memorial Day 1965. The pair was known as Joey & Luigi. Luigi sang ditties like Beyond the Sea, Memories,  Night and Day, and My Funny Valentine, and occasionally did one of his trusty impressions. He still does a fine John Wayne. Joey & Luigi remained at the Camelot until the mid-1970s.

Over the years, Balletto played at a variety of area joints.  From the late 1970s to the early 1990s, Balletto worked at an Albertson's, where he was known as the singing deli man. Later, he did a 10-year-stint at St. Michael's Alley from 1995-2005. Then, from 2006-2008, he played Emilio's Piano Lounge, where he was known as a singing bartender who could croon "Mack the Knife" while mixing up a chocolate martini. These days, when fans from his days at the Camelot see Balletto, they marvel, "Luigi, you're still alive and you look wonderful! Why?" And Balletto says, "Because I quit smoking. I quit drinking and I got born again."  

 

 

Twenty years ago, Balletto was smoking four packs of cigarettes a day. He preferred unfiltered Lucky Strikes and Camels. Balletto also reveled in shots of vodka. That lifestyle, however, was killing his singing voice. Then everything changed while he slept.

"The Lord came to me in the night, in my sleep, I swear to you," Balletto said. "He told my heart that if I would quit smoking, and drinking, and turned my life around, I would get my voice back. And it happened."

A year ago, Balletto risked his life to keep the Lord's melodic gift. See, Balletto had a minor heart attack that called for one stent to open a clogged artery. The relatively routine procedure isn't open-heart surgery, but the doctor warned cracking open his chest was a possibility if the procedure went wrong. Balletto did not want his chest opened, though. He feared it would end his singing career, so he signed a form that basically told the doctors he would rather die than risk losing his singing voice.

"You have to understand," said the unmarried father of four children, "that if I can't sing, if I can't do this what am I going to do? 
I'm 73. I've lived much longer than I should have."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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