Embracing the Shadows: The Unsung Heroes in Pursuit of Greatness

by Madonna

For over four decades, Mark Rivera has been mesmerizing audiences as Billy Joel’s saxophonist, claiming the spotlight with his soulful solos on iconic tracks like “New York State of Mind.” Yet, Rivera’s journey reveals the profound beauty of living just outside the limelight.

Rivera, the author of “Sideman: In Pursuit of the Next Gig,” believes that being a sideman means understanding one’s place in life. “Knowing where your place is, that’s very important,” he says. “What’s the biggest mistake a sideman can make? Thinking he’s more important than the name on the marquee!”


Bestselling author Tim Brown echoes a similar sentiment, emphasizing the value of those who operate in the shadows across various domains, from music to sports and everyday life.


Despite society often glorifying the spotlight, Brown argues that there’s honor in excelling at what you do daily, even if it’s not your entire dream. In his latest book, “The Tao of the Backup Catcher,” Brown explores the world of backup catchers in Major League Baseball, often the unsung heroes behind the star players. These individuals, like Erik Kratz, understand that it’s crucial to wrestle their egos and prioritize the team’s success over personal glory.


Success, according to Brown, boils down to discovering who you are and excelling at it. It’s about finding contentment rooted in humility and gratitude for where you are and who you’re becoming, even if it’s not the ultimate dream.

Kayla Pecchioni, a rising Broadway star, embodies this ethos. She embraces the “glimmers,” those small moments that make life beautiful, finding joy in the pursuit of stardom. Mark Rivera, too, cherishes every moment, practicing gratitude for the opportunity to step into the spotlight and understanding that humility often takes him back into the shadows. “I genuinely love what I do!” he affirms.

In a world that often glorifies fame, these stories serve as a reminder that greatness can be found, and fulfillment can be achieved, even in the shadows.


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