For New York-based singer Christina Kokonis-Viggers, an impromptu karaoke performance in the middle of a crowded Sam’s Club is hardly within character.
Although she has a beautiful voice, the 32-year-old singer almost lives a double life. She’s quiet and reserved in her everyday activities, working as a senior consumer fund specialist who helps with fund management for developmentally disabled individuals. She normally, she admitted, saves her resonating tones for the stage, where she performs in her spare time.
While shopping at a Sam’s Club in Ulster, New York, though, the temptation to try out some fun technology won out over her reserved personality.
While shopping at the Hudson Valley-based superstore with a few of her friends, Kokonis-Viggers came across a karaoke machine.
Wanting to have a bit of fun, the friends turned on the demo machine that was sitting out —- and Kokonis-Viggers decided to give her fellow shoppers a throwback to the iconic musical Cabaret, belting out the famous tune “Maybe This Time”.
She noticed the shoppers around her drawing closer, and friend Amanda Lasher, who had been shopping with Kokonis-Viggers, caught the performance on her phone.
But neither she nor Lasher expected the upload of the video to go quite as viral as it did.
In the hours after the pair had put the video out for the world to hear, their jaws dropped at the rapid increase in views. It hit the hundreds, then the thousands, all before the evening was over — and within days, millions had heard the tunes.
Before she knew it, Kokonis-Viggers, who went by the stage name ‘Stina Marie’, was getting requests from radio stations and talent recruiters who wanted to put her voice in front of a larger audience. She said that she’s even heard from recruitment figures from the iconic show ‘America’s Got Talent’, hoping she’ll give it a shot.
Within weeks, the video had 8 million views and counting, which Kokonis-Viggers considers just the beginning of what could be her big break.
What she’s really happy for, though, is the positive messages she’s received from listeners who viewed her performance as something that put a smile on their faces.
“I got so many messages,” she explained, “where someone has said ‘I just got out of my chemo treatment,’ and I want to cry with them, but then they’re like, ‘Thank you for putting a smile on my face.’”
One woman in particular stood out to Kokonis-Viggers as she read through the reactions. A mom reached out to her, explaining that her son had passed away two years ago.
“I came across your video and just started smiling,” the woman wrote. For Kokonis-Viggers, she got to ‘spread some sunshine’ to a complete stranger who needed it — and for an unexpected performance, that’s a huge deal in her eyes.
Kokonis-Viggers is a huge part of the Hudson Valley performance scene already, serving as president of Upstage Productions in the area north of New York City.
With Manhattan just miles down the river, though, the sky truly is the limit — and with her music making the rounds, it’s hard to imagine that she won’t get a legitimate shot down in the bright lights this holiday season.