The couple share a seat in a booth, not touching their food, looking ahead with dreamy smiles and nodding along to the smooth music filling the restaurant bar.
It’s a wonderful world,
I’m just walking on air.
Other customers look up from their plates and away from their dinnertime chatter, as father and daughter Maurice and Shanice Hayes, draped in blue light, take turns singing the Frank Sinatra standard — Maurice, 62, in a black jacket and bow tie, Shanice, 18, in a white cardigan and dress.
The duo has spent the last six years performing on the streets of the Country Club Plaza, at private events and, occasionally, in the bar of Cascone’s Italian Restaurant on North Oak Trafficway.
Last month, they landed an on-air audition on NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” — charming judges Howard Stern, Sharon Osbourne and Howie Mandel and earning a spot in the next round with their sentimental rendition of Carole King’s “You’ve Got a Friend.”
“When a father and daughter like you come on, you move me,” Stern said. “You guys are spectacular together. I think every father in America right now is saying ‘Wow. That’s the kind of relationship I want with my daughter’ This is what I call perfection.”
In a corner of the Northland bar, Maurice snaps along as he sings, bopping and swaying to the instrumentals that come from the sound system they’ve brought with them. He’s a crooner. His songs float across the room, smoothly, gently.
Shanice looks focused, stern, ready to prove herself. She belts her lyrics with a startling depth. Her voice is heavy with determination.
The song is over. The couple in the booth clap. So do the men drinking at the bar.
“Thank you,” Maurice says with a big grin. And the music starts up again.