Not many people are into department store background music. Often, shoppers are subjected to tinny renditions of outdated pop songs, but a Sam’s Club in New York played host to an unexpected musical talent after one shopper decided to test out a bluetooth karaoke machine in store.
Christina Kokonis-Viggers, or “Stina Marie” to her friends, is a 33-year-old singer from Staten Island. She was out at Sam’s with her bestie Amanda Lasher when Christina was seized by the moment; she saw a karaoke machine and couldn’t resist hooking it up to her mobile phone.
The singer’s song of choice turned heads immediately. Cranking the volume, she belted out an ebullient, pitch-perfect rendition of Liza Minelli’s “Maybe This Time” from the 1972 musical Cabaret. As shoppers passed her by, Christina looked down shyly but soon realized that the whole store was absolutely loving her performance.
As the last note faded in the wake of Christina’s perfect vibrato, shoppers and staff broke into delighted applause. The impromptu mini-concert was caught on camera, and Lasher quickly shared it on Facebook. Nobody, especially not the modest singer herself, could have predicted the wild response.
“My friend posted it that night when we were leaving the store,” Christina told the Hudson Valley News Network. “She said, ‘Christina, you know this is going to go somewhere.'” Christina, however, was dubious, but she couldn’t deny the numbers as the views mounted up.
“We were just sitting there, watching TV,” the singer continued. “We both looked at our phones and went, ‘Oh, my God. It’s already at 2,000 tonight!’” And those numbers just kept on climbing. To date, the epic karaoke outburst has been watched over 15 million times.
This epicness just went down in Sam’s Club. Sam’s Club you are welcome!#samsclub#putmeonsteve
Posted by Amanda Lasher on Friday, October 20, 2017
Christina had to adjust to overnight internet fame. Her awesome Sam’s performance even caught the attention of some pretty impressive figures in the entertainment industry. “It has been a whirlwind,” Christina admitted. “I’m overwhelmed because there are so many women messaging me left and right, saying, ‘We love you,’ and ‘This is amazing.’”
This “camaraderie between women” was what made it all worthwhile for the singer. She had always been a humanitarian; Christina was a senior consumer fund specialist at an organization called “Access: Supports for Living,” helping safeguard the financial assets of developmentally disabled clients, when her video went viral. She also co-ran a musical theater non-profit in Hudson.
Without wishing to give any of this up, Christina still wanted to make a career of her singing. “I would love to one day be up there with the greats,” she shared, emulating the “old greats” like Etta James and Sharon Jones. And there’s clearly an audience for it; talk show host Steve Harvey got wind of Christina’s burgeoning popularity and invited the singer on to his show segment “Put Me On, Steve” in December of 2017.
“What’s it been like for you since [the video] went viral?” Steve asked. “Insane,” Christina joked back. She went on to sing a show-stopping cover of Barbra Streisand’s “Don’t Rain On My Parade,” but that wasn’t all; Sam’s Club gifted the singer a generous $5,000 shopping spree at the store in gratitude for her custom and in honor of her astonishing voice. Christina was overjoyed.
Since her video went viral, Christina has been chronicling her music career on social media. She remains humble. “If just the simplest thing happens where I could have a career in singing and pay my everyday bills,” the grounded singer confessed back in 2017, “that’s what I’d love to do.”
“I want to make sure I remain a regular human being.”