John Wagner’s wife and kids were everything to him, and he was everything to them. When he died suddenly at 54 last February, his daughter, Capri, wrote a song, “My Angel.”
“I wasn’t really sure of the timing, whether it was appropriate so soon after,” said Capri, 26, an emerging singer and songwriter who is praised by pop superstar Kelly Clarkson.
“My Angel,” a lovely tribute to her dad, powerfully delivered in a terrific voice and a tsunami of sentiment. She mourns how he won’t be there on her wedding day, or when she has kids. She misses him.
“My dad was deeply involved in my life. I have three brothers. He coached all of us, me in soccer, my brothers in baseball,” she said.
Her father, who worked in sales and had a handyman business on the side, had a creative streak, too. His paintings hang in the family’s house. His death left a void.
“He always wanted to be with us, all the time. When the pandemic came, it was clearly a sad time for a lot of people, but he enjoyed that time, spending it with the family,” she said.
The song was praised by Ne-Yo, a singer, songwriter, producer and influencer. On her YouTube page, there’s video of him listening to “My Angel” and blowing Capri a kiss for a great song.
“Ne-Yo is so awesome. We’ve been in contact since last year. He’s been helping me push out my music to more people,” she said.
He isn’t the only one who noticed her talent. Clarkson, who rose to fame as the first, and since one of the most successful, winners of “American Idol” two decades ago, came across Capri covering her song “Breakaway.” That song has been covered by everyone since its release in 2004.
“I got what I thought was a fan email, and it turned out to be from Glamour magazine,” Capri said. “They said they really like my ‘Breakaway’ cover and they wanted to do a Skype interview.”
They surprised her.
“After the questions, they said ‘We have something to show you.’”
On the screen came a video of Clarkson watching Capri’s cover, saying good things.
“I wasn’t buying it until she said my name,” Capri said. “Of all my covers that one was on the lower end view count, a little over a hundred.”
Thanks to Clarkson, Capri received a mega boost in viewers, a key ingredient in building a performing career.
“It goes to show you that you shouldn’t focus on numbers,” she said. “For anyone who’s an independent artist, don’t fixate on that stuff. If what you’re doing is authentic, and you have talent, eventually people see that.”
Capri started singing at 18 months.
“Sesame Street songs, I think maybe the first was ‘C is for Cookie,’” she said.
She sang Disney tunes and at age seven wrote songs. She recorded and posted online videos of her covers, inspired by Justin Bieber’s discovery story. At 14 she performed publicly at a school event, and at 16 she put out recordings of her material.
But for those blessed with the creative gene, relying on a performing career to pay the bills is a dicey proposition. Music is not her full-time gig.
“Realistically, I knew that I needed to go to college for something. And I knew I wanted to help people,” she said.
After graduating from Council Rock North, she went to Bucks County Community College and Temple University. She thought she would be a nurse, then a teacher, then decided on recreational therapy, helping people with disabilities acquire skills for employment. Her Aunt Dana, with cerebral palsy, was her inspiration.
“My heart has always been with that population of people,” she said.
She hopes to pick up gigs locally in restaurants and festivals.
Two other great tunes she’s recorded are “Raining in LA,” with a slickly produced video. On another she accompanies the singer Tommy Boi on “Out of My Head.”
It’s been good fortune in the last year, but her heart and thoughts frequently return to her late father, who loved soft rock and encouraged her to sing. (Her mother, Cheryl, is an accountant for Newtown Township).
“Even though I knew he’s not here,” she said, “I know he’s watching over me.”
Always her angel.
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Columnist JD Mullane been a staff writer at the Courier Times since 1987. Have a story about interesting local people? Hit him up at 215-949-5745 or at email@example.com.
This article originally appeared on Bucks County Courier Times: CR North grad Capri Wagner is noticed by Kelly Clarkson, Ne-Yo for her singing