Three years ago, Rick Valiant re-discovered a gift he always knew he had but never truly unveiled it.
And who better and more challenging to emulate than the famous crooner Frank Sinatra, whom Valiant will pay tribute to - as he has often done - in a special pre-Mother's Day performance Saturday at Port Moody's Inlet Theatre (100 Newport Dr.) at 8 p.m.
A sales consultant for a moving company by day and Sinatra song-man by night, the "50-something" Valiant began living his passion to perform shortly after overcoming his battle with alcoholism.
He has been clean and sober for four years, has "a whole new life" and has since visited and sang with other tribute artists in Sinatra's very hometown of Hoboken, N.J.
He also competed recently in a Frank Sinatra Idol competition at the Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas during the city's renowned Tribute Artist and Impersonator Convention on Freemont Street.
"[Singing to] Sinatra has always come naturally to me," said Valiant, an Ontario native and Burnaby resident who moved to B.C. in 1980. "His words are easy to sing and are always telling stories. We all have things we like to do outside our regular duties.
"I like to think I help keep his stuff alive."
Valiant said his trip to Hoboken was "unbelievable" and that matching tunes with 15 or so other Sinatra loyalists was both interesting and challenging.
Same went for Vegas.
"The Vegas experience really opened my eyes," Valiant said. "There are more and more [tribute performers] now and the winner was really, really good. That was my first time there and I'd like to go back and give it another crack."
If anybody has watched Sinatra sing, they'll quickly notice that he always did so seemingly effortless while holding his antiquated microphone a fair distance from his mouth, something Valiant takes great pride in being able to replicate.
"I'm hoping that's what people feel from me... that it's natural," Valiant said. "That's the best way to be. "I'm fortunate I'm able to do that, I've been told."
Joining Valiant on Saturday will be the Blue Morris nine-piece swing band, which adds a special feel and sound, he said.
For tickets, call 604-931-2008 and/or visit www.rickyvaliant.com for more details.