A real-life soprano went from being a member of a New Jersey gang to a musical star after videos of him singing to patients at the hospital where he worked went viral.
Enrique Rodríguez, 28, of Central Jersey, now works as a phlebotomist at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital and is widely recognized for his musical talents.
He began posting videos to his TikTok account, which now has more than 80,000 followers, of him singing and playing the piano for critically ill patients in the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit.
He left behind a history of violence and crime to help people who suffer after turning to religion.
He said of his turnaround: “I encountered God at an extremely troubling period in my life and he showed himself to me when I needed him most. I know that God wanted me to take care of people like He took care of me, and the hospital was the perfect place to do it. “
It was in 2009 that Rodríguez first became involved with gangs after his older brother went to prison.
The loss of his brother to the prison system made Rodríguez feel disconnected from his loved ones and he went out in search of what he called “the wrong family.”
He became a ‘blood member’ of a local gang for three years after being duped into the idea of joining a strong brotherhood and earning quick and easy money.
He explained: “The gang lifestyle is pure manipulation. They make you feel that they care about you, that they support you that you are family; but all they do is use you so they don’t have to get their hands dirty. “
The turning point for Rodríguez came when he hurt the “wrong person” and a rival gang went after his mother.
There were two attempts on his mother’s life before the attackers were arrested, and Rodríguez believes it is up to God that his mother is still alive today.
He added: “I have done a lot of bad things and mixed with a lot of bad people.
“I am thankful that God takes care of me and my family. It has given me the opportunity to start a new life, and music is a big part of that. “
Rodríguez started working at the hospital in 2012 as a housekeeper to get a job there as quickly as possible.
A year later, he completed his training to become a patient caregiver in the ICU, and now works as a phlebotomist transporting COVID-19 and blood samples from different laboratories.
He has worked in the hospital for nine years and, during his career, discovered that he possessed raw musical talent.
Unable to read sheet music, Rodríguez taught himself to play the piano and guitar, and practiced playing in front of several patients in the room.
Sadly, Barbara Freud, a cancer patient who was one of Rodríguez’s first listeners, passed away while on vacation, but she will always remember the musical bond they shared.
He now makes regular visits to patient bedside and uses TikTok to broadcast his performances live to tens of thousands of viewers.
Rodríguez plans to increase his following by making more videos and spreading love and happiness through his music.
He said, “I love what I do and I believe that my purpose in this world is to help other people.
“When I sing to these patients I can feel the connection we have and it is wonderful.
“There was a time when I would sing to a patient in a coma and wake up for the first time in weeks.
“It was a true miracle.”
Next week, Rodríguez will travel to Puerto Rico with his church group to help underprivileged children, and there is no doubt that his guitar will make the trip as well.
You can enjoy his musical talents on his TikTok channel @thesingingphlebotomist.
(CLOCK the SWNS video of Rodríguez singing below.)
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