Local 'signer' has another high-profile gig
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Seth Goldberg of Arlington Heights likes to set his sights high.
When he heard that Josh Groban, one of his favorite singers — his idol, as he calls him — was coming to Ravinia earlier this month, he set out to see his could "sign" the concert with him, onstage.
For most people, it would be an impossible quest. Even Goldberg calls it, "his dream." But unlike most people, for Goldberg, it came true.
There he was, on Aug. 10, on Ravinia's Pavilion stage, with Groban and the Ravinia Festival Orchestra, as well as featured soloists Christian Hebel on violin and Tariqh Akoni on guitar.
Side by side with Groban, they performed two of the singer's biggest hits, "Vincent," and as a finale, "You Raise Me Up."
"It was so exciting, I still can't believe it happened," Goldberg says. "This whole week since the concert has been crazy."
Goldberg is a familiar sight in the Northwest suburbs. He is an ambassador for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, as well as Keshet, a provider of programs for individuals with special needs in Northbrook, including Buddy Baseball; and the Chicago Wheelchair Bulls. He sits on the Citizens with Disabilities Commission in Arlington Heights.
Goldberg is a bagger at the Jewel Food Store at Northpoint Shopping Plaza in Arlington Heights, where he aims to put a smile on customers' faces.
Performing onstage, however, has been a passion of Goldberg's since he was a teen and appeared in "Bye, Bye Birdie" at Cutting Hall. That was a groundbreaking performance that paired him with able-bodied peers.
Muscular dystrophy, as well as a hearing loss — he has worn hearing aids since he was just months old — has never held him back, his mother, Marla, says.
"He reads lips, hears the vibrations of the music, and does well with visual cues," she says.
She adds that when actress Marlee Matlin saw him sign a song at a Keshet fundraiser, she reportedly said, "He had sunshine in his hands."
Groban is not the first celebrity that Goldberg has signed for on for in a high profile gig, onstage.
He signed at Carnegie Hall with Peter, Paul and Mary, Arlo Guthrie, Pete Seeger and the Weavers.
He also signed with Debbie Friedman, Craig Taubman, and Rick Reckt, his mother adds, and that doesn't count the multiple songs that he as performed at schools, synagogues and other fundraisers.
"He loves expressing himself to wonderful music with sign language," Marla Goldberg says.
In fact, his performance with Groban was so expressive and not just signing, that it resulted in a standing ovation from the pavilion crowd.
"I put so much emotion into my signing is because I like to move the way the music is," Goldberg says. "It's just the way I feel about the music."
His feeling even moved Groban, who at the end of their first song together, "Vincent," pointed to Goldberg said simply: "Beautiful, beautiful."
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