TOWN OF ULSTER–Christina Kokonis-Viggers typically shies away from putting on a show outside the confines of the theater.
Although the Leeds woman has belted out a few classics at “Open Mic Night” at Club Helsinki in Hudson, the thought of performing spontaneously makes her bristle.
“I get quite nervous about doing an outburst in a random spot,” she said.
It was therefore out-of-character for her to pick up a microphone on a $169.98 karaoke machine in the middle of Sam’s Club on Oct. 20 and sing as if no one were watching (view the full video here: IMG_3483)
But the 32-year-old is glad she did.
Her rendition of “Maybe This Time” from the 1972 musical “Cabaret” has gone viral, getting close to 4 million views.
Her new fame also has led to countless invitations on area radio stations and a clip on Thursday night’s “Inside Edition.”
“My friend posted it that night when we were leaving the store, and she said, ‘Christina, you know this is going to go somewhere.’ I said, ‘No, it’s really not.’
“So after I shared it on my Facebook, we were just sitting there, watching TV. We both looked at our phones and went, ‘Oh, my God. It’s already at 2,000 tonight.'”
As of late Thursday, the video shot by her bestie, Amanda Lasher, had reached 3,754,326 views and elicited comments from people all over the country.
“It has been a whirlwind,” Kokonis-Viggers said. “I am overwhelmed, and I’m not overwhelmed because of all these postings and people that are messaging me. I’m overwhelmed because there are so many women who are just messaging me left and right and saying, ‘We love you’ and ‘This is amazing.’ That’s really great to see there is this camaraderie between women.
“The other thing is putting a smile on somebody’s face. I’ve gotten so many messages where someone has said, ‘I just got out of my chemo treatment,’ and I want to cry with them, but then they’re like, ‘Thank you for putting a smile on my face,’ she said.
“I had one woman message me and said, ‘My son passed away two years ago, and I came across your video, and I just started smiling.’ How do you respond to that, other than to say, ‘I’m so glad that I could least spread some sunshine your way.'”
By day, Kokonis-Viggers is a senior consumer fund specialist at the Middletown-based Access: Supports for Living, where she safeguards the funds of the developmentally disabled population.
She said while her job is rewarding, if the karaoke video gets her “discovered,” she’ll likely follow her dream to become a full-time singer.
“I’m sure that they are aware that if something does happen and it takes off from this that I will be pursuing that with their full support,” she said, adding that her supervisor is her No. 1 fan.
Kokonis-Viggers, known to her circle of friends as Stina Marie, said she has no classical vocal training.
“Most of what you guys got to see is just hard work and practice.”
The Staten Island native also serves as president at Upstage Productions, a musical theater in Hudson. In that role, she works with students in the area school district as well as Columbia-Greene Community College putting on shows.
Kokonis-Viggers said she is drawn mainly to “old-school” show tunes. Her biggest musical inspirations are Julie Andrews and Barbra Streisand, though she occasionally enjoys trying different material.
“I love to challenge myself with the old greats like Etta James and Sharon Jones, so I love to get into that big, brass-type music.”
With all the recent excitement, Kokonis-Viggers is trying to stay focused and remain hopeful that her big break will come and that the right person will notice her.
“I would love to one day be up there with the greats like Adele and going to the Grammys, but if just the simplest thing happens where I could have a career in singing and pay my everyday bills, that’s what I’d love to do.”
By the way, if she does become a celebrity because of the Sam’s Club video, she already is thinking ahead.
“My biggest thing is to make sure I stay the same and that I’m still goofy and laugh-in-your-face. Regardless of where it goes–whether it’s just a viral video and I get a couple of branches out or I actually make it big–I want to make sure I remain a regular human being.”