MANHATTAN — Italian jazz singer Daniela D'Ercole wanted nothing more than to make it in New York.
But that dream was cut short last Thursday night when she was struck and killed by an SUV on 106th Street and Broadway.
"She wanted to have her dream come true in New York: singing jazz music and becoming as great a singer as she could," Giuseppe Bassi, D'Ercole's bandmate and friend for six years, told DNAinfo.
"She was alone in a big city, New York, looking for happiness. Alone, but surrounded by love."
An autopsy of D'Ercole found that she died from blunt impact to the head, a spokeswoman for the city's Office of the Medical Examiner said Monday. D'Ercole's body has been identified, but not yet retrieved from the morgue, officials said.
D'Ercole, an up-and-coming artist who played gigs last month in Bayside, Queens, Montclair, N.J., and upstate New York, moved to the city in Septmember.
"Daniela had a great energy. She was able to express her talent in every situation and when she sang, she did it purely from her heart," Bassi said.
"Everybody was taken by her talent and her beauty, listeners and musicians alike."
Bassi, an accomplished bass player, said that D'Ercole, 32, who left college to pursue a career in music, loved Motown and Michael Jackson, and adored Tony Bennett.
"One of her most favorite albums was Tony Bennett with Bill Evans," he said.
Born into a musical family — her father and brother were accomplished musicians — D'Ercole devoted herself to her craft.
"Daniela loved music above everything else and had dedicated her whole life to it! She only wanted to chase her dream and bring joy to people, always with a smile on her face," Bassi said. "And you should just have seen her face when she heard something that touched her heart...It was like the sun rising."
In the credits for their 2008 album, "The Peacocks," which was made along with three other musicians, D'Ercole writes that Bassi was "instrumental in my decision to undertake a career in jazz performance" and calls him a "mentor."
The album, which includes a cover of Christopher Cross's "Sailing," drew critical praise from noted jazz saxophonist and flautist Lew Tabackin, who called D'Ercole "a new bright light on the jazz vocal scene."
"She left us too soon...but her voice will resonate forever in our hearts and everywhere," said Bassi. "I will love her forever."