HARLEM, New York - A thunderous voice regularly fills the stairwell inside a Harlem apartment building. Janitor John Maldonado, who has cleaned floors and taken out trash for nearly a decade at the Lenox Avenue residential building, recently surfaced on YouTube and sheds light on a story all too familiar of undiscovered talent in New York City.
"When I was younger I used to sing for my family for get-togethers," Maldonado told PIX11 News. "I sing for my friends, but I never really pursued it. Secretly I always wanted to be a singer but I've always been nervous."
From pop stars like Mariah Carey to John Legend, Maldonado has covered all the greats, putting his own smooth falsetto style to their hits. Despite failed auditions on singing competition shows like American Idol and The Voice, he hasn't let go of the dream, using the hallways and stairwells as his personal studio to record music.
"Unfortunately I can't afford studio time at the moment," he said. "In the meantime I use the hallways for the echo and I've put some videos up on YouTube and some people have taken notice."
Some of those people are the tenants at the Lenox Avenue dwelling.
"He has such an amazing voice. It's a blessing to hear that type of music — to hear that voice in the morning when you wake up," tenant Cora Heckstall said.
Other tenants like Billie Jean Edge relish at the opportunity to hear Maldonado belt out a tune.
"Whenever I hear him sing, I run out of my apartment and swing that door open and tell him 'sing it baby!'" she said. "Thank the Lord! The world needs to hear his voice. That's what God put in you to do."
When it comes to the goal, Maldonado doesn't beat around the bush.
"The dream is to be a singer. I want the people whose songs I sing to start singing my songs."
"I enjoy my gift and give all thanks to God and I'm going to keep singing no matter what happens."