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Pat Benatar – A Polish-American Rock Singer

There are more singers, film stars and sports figures of Polish descent than commonly known as most often they end up changing their names. Another to add to this list of famous individuals is Pat Benatar, who was born Patricia Mae Andrzejewski on January 10, 1953, in heavily-Polish Greenpoint, New York to Andrew and Mildred Andrzejewski, a sheet-metal worker and a beautician. The family later moved to Long Island.

Patti, as she was known, became interested in theater and began voice lessons. At the age of eight, she performed her first solo, a song called “It Must Be Spring” at the Daniel Street Elementary School. In high school, she participated in musical theater, playing Queen Guinevere in the school’s production of “Camelot.” She marched in the homecoming parade, sang at the annual Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony and performed a solo of “The Christmas Song” on a holiday recording of her high school’s choir during her senior year.

With plans to attend Juilliard School, Benetar surprised her family, friends and teachers by deciding that a classical career was not for her. At 19, she dropped out of school to marry her high school sweetheart, Dennis Benatar.

In 1973, Benatar quit her job as a bank teller to pursue a singing career after being inspired by a Liza Minnelli concert she attended. She got a job as a singing waitress at a flapper-esque nightclub named “The Roaring Twenties.” She later got a gig singing in a lounge band that in time garnered enough attention to be the subject of a never-aired PBS special. Her big break came in 1975 at an amateur night at the comedy club “Catch a Rising Star” in New York. Her performance there earned her a call back by the club owner who would later become her manager.

Benatar continued as a regular member on “Catch a Rising Star” and began doing Pepsi commercials. It was this singing that caught the attention of representatives from several record companies which eventually led to the recording of her first album in 1979.

In 1985, Benatar earned a Grammy Award nomination for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female, with “We Belong.” Benatar was one of the most heavily played artists in the early days of MTV. During the 1980s, she had two RIAA-certified Multi-Platinum albums, five RIAA-certified Platinum albums, three RIAA-certified Gold albums and 10 Top 40 singles, including “Hit Me With Your Best Shot.”