Just the Facts, Ma'am ...
A concise read for the reporter on a deadline
Zupe is a multi-faceted artist, currently composing material for the film and television industry, and also entertaining audiences throughout the Mid-Atlantic region with his unique one-man music show. His more noteable television work includes music placements on ABC's Suburgatory, Fox's Malcolm In The Middle and The Simple Life, Dateline NBC, The History Channel’s Highway Hangouts, and MTV's Road Rules and Real World. He's also been featured on local and regional radio markets, including Philadelphia and Toronto, for his progressive jazz, rock fusion album, Speechless, cowritten with long time collaborator, Dave Nichols.
Zupe grew up in Cairnbrook, a small mining town in central Pennsylvania. He began trumpet lessons at the age of eight, which were then followed by many additional band instruments, including piano, his instrument of choice today. Throughout his school years, Zupe played in various band, orchestra, and choir ensembles, culminating in the Pennsylvania State Chorus in 1984.
Following high school, Zupe enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and performed with the Sheppard Air Force Base Drum & Bugle Corps, eventually rising through the ranks and becoming the student commander/director. During his two-year tour in Germany, Zupe studied and apprenticed under Juilliard master pianist, Paul Amrod. As a decorated sergeant, Zupe was honorably discharged from the U.S. Air Force in 1988 and started a one-man-band show. He employed computer sequencing and MIDI keyboards, playing pop music in the club scene. Even now, Zupe continues to perform a one-man show, but instead of pop and current hits, the set list is more of a retro-jazz, be-bop, rat pack compilation.
Zupe’s music represents a smorgasbord of influences. One of his earliest musical memories harkens lyrics from Buffalo Springfield's "For What It's Worth." "There's a man with a gun over there tellin' me I got to beware..." resonated with the youngster. Pop music on the radio filled Zupe’s childhood home during the day and classical music on the living room record player filled the evenings. It was the 1970s, variety shows dominated television, and Zupe loved them all.
His formal music education began in elementary school. Zupe's teachers were cats from the big-band era and they instilled the love of that genre in him. He began to expand his musical palette and sought recordings by artists like Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Bennie Goodman, Frank Sinatra, Nelson Riddle, and Dizzy Gillespie. As a young trumpet student, Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass made quite an impression. Even today, Zupe plays many of those Herb Alpert tunes. His teenage influences expanded as he discovered solo artists like Elton John, Billy Joel, and Peter Gabriel as well as progressive groups such as Yes, Kansas, Rush, Genesis, and Emerson, Lake, and Palmer. Pink Floyd's The Wall was an album that Zupe played so much, he wore it out – twice! Elton John's double album, Blue Moves, also fell into the heavy rotation. Yet, despite such a wide array of musical styles, Zupe skillfully blended these diverse elements into a sound and style that's all his own.
Zupe’s recorded work spans several decades beginning with a 1986 single release with his band, "Off the Wall," in Germany. In 1995, the American Red Cross adopted Zupe’s single, “The Light,” for use in its nationwide Disaster Relief Awareness campaign. Zupe’s 1998 piano instrumental album, Christmas Piano, has sold thousands of copies. Also in 1998, Zupe’s EP, Zupe du Jour, was released, catching the attention of music publisher Warner-Chappell and receiving radio airplay throughout the region.
2007‘s Speechless received the most recognition of any project for Zupe, including a Radio Grindie Award from RadioIndy.com. Individual tracks received notoriety as well. “Rib Joint” spent 29 weeks at #1 on Broadjam’s Chicago Blues Chart while “Step On It” was nominated as 2011‘s Best Instrumental Composition at the Hollywood Music in Media Awards.
Zupe released two additional solo albums in 2010 and 2011 that showcased his talents beyond jazz and blues. Dance was created to provide new music for ballroom enthusiasts and demonstrates Zupe’s wide array of composition skill. Meanwhile, 2011’s Yuletides, provides unique arrangements of holiday favorites to accompany Zupe’s vocal prowess. Compositions and additional information on the artist can be found at his website (www.zupe.net). Zupe also maintains a site on on Facebook (www.facebook.com/Zupe.1), CD Baby (www.cdbaby.com/Artist/Zupe), Broadjam, and iTunes.