Yes, he really was that excited.
There’s nothing faked in Stephen Scaccia’s over-the-top reaction in a now-viral video, in the moment he realizes he’s watching Mariah Carey watching him sing a Mariah Carey song. His musical hero watching him sing her song, Hero?
Scaccia is a 26-year-old Burnaby crooner who’s made his name as a favourite local entertainer, following in the footsteps of his idol, Michael Bublé. You’ve likely seen him perform around town at a festival or special event.
These days, he’s also something of a YouTube sensation, after Glamour Magazine found him online and tracked him down to take part in their online series, You Sang My Song. The video series takes a different celebrity each episode and films them watching a variety of fans doing covers of their song, then shows the fan singers reacting to the celebrity’s reaction.
Scaccia didn’t know he was taking part in that show. In fact, he doesn’t know how Glamour happened to stumble across his video, since it had been on YouTube for about a year-and-a-half before he got a Facebook message out of the blue from a Glamour staffer. They asked him if he’d be willing to do a Skype interview talking about why he chose Hero and what the song meant to him.
He said sure.
“I am a huge Mariah fan. I think she’s probably the singer I look up to the most, and have since I was a child,” he says. “That song is an inspirational song for me. It has allowed me to draw from inner strength.”
He had plenty to say about Hero, which he says has always spoken to his own path in life. The lyrics in the bridge – “Dreams are hard to follow, but don't let anyone tear them away” – just speak volumes to him about his own path in life and his decision to follow a music career.
“It seems cheesy and it seems cliché, but it’s absolutely relevant to what’s going on in my life,” he says.
He was sharing some of his thoughts about Hero with the interviewer over Skype when they told him they were sending him a link to a video and asked him to watch it while they kept recording.
Which is when he saw Carey watching him sing. And smiling. And commenting on his version of her song. (For the record, she loved it and called it "amazing.")
“I was absolutely dumbstruck. I had no idea what was happening,” Scaccia says. “It still sort of feels not real.”
He’s taken a lot of good-natured teasing for his reaction – which is, by turns, overwhelmed, emotional, giddy and more than a little gushing. His partner even took a screenshot from the video and uploaded it to Instagram.
Scaccia can laugh right along with them – he’s the first to admit he was dumbfounded by the experience – but says he’s gotten a lot of support since it happened, not just from family and friends but from fans who saw the Glamour Magazine video and found Scaccia’s YouTube channel from there.
“I'm here from the Mariah Carey video and I'm now on a Stephen marathon after midnight when I have a meeting tomorrow,” wrote one of Scaccia’s new fans.
His subscriber numbers and YouTube video views have been going up since the experience.
At the same time, another of Scaccia’s video projects – a duet with Nikita Afonso that’s a mash-up of greatest hits of the past 20 years of music in five minutes – has also been getting huge traction. The YouTube video has now surpassed 300,000 views, and Facebook shares have passed a million.
It was a video they worked on with Randy Chang of the YouTube channel TheSafehouseProject, filmed in Steveston in March in an empty school playground on a snowy weekend.
“It ended up being, I thought, a really cool shoot,” Scaccia says.
What he loves about his YouTube work is the way it makes him accessible to fans around the world. The music industry has changed so much, he says, pointing out that artists can become stars without even being signed to a record label (Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, anyone?).
Though fame isn’t really one of his end goals, he does want to get his music out to as many people as possible. He wants to keep writing and releasing his own music and touring, with the hope that eventually he will get signed by a label.
“I want to be heard. Ideally, the more people who hear me, the better,” he says, noting that social media makes that possible in a way it never was before.
So he’ll continue working on his YouTube channel over the summer, even as live gig season kicks into high gear (and working around his day job in the City of Burnaby’s parks, recreation and culture department). He just sang at Italian Day on Commercial Drive and is set to sing at the Italian Cultural Centre for its summer night market tonight (June 15). He’ll also be appearing at the Edmonds Canada Day festivities and singing O Canada at a couple of major events in Burnaby this summer – the Giro di Burnaby in July and the RCMP Musical Ride at Swangard Stadium in August.
And much as he loves the chance to share his talents live, he finds something particularly rewarding about his YouTube work.
“My presence on social media is (a) what makes me the happiest and (b) what brings me the most success,” he says. “It is THE most fun I’ve had with music in a long time.”