Stephen Fuller, of Newark, New Jersey, longs to see his kids and grandchildren who live in New York City, but that’s not an option. Neither is performing live shows.
Fuller has been a working musician, both solo and with a group for most of his adult life. With the outbreak of the coronavirus disease, all his gigs have been canceled. Nevertheless he is keeping himself busy organizing his taxes and preparing for a Lionel Richie tribute show. “It’s a perfect sound,” he said. “It’s going to be really good. He [Richie] did a lot of ballads and I love ballads. They really resonate with me.”
Growing up in Newark, Fuller was inspired by his neighbors who were into music. “They all took piano lessons,” he said. “The daughter ended up being a concert violinist.” But what really planted the seed was an eighth grade teacher who told him he had a nice voice.
Fuller attended Arts High School in Newark. Famous names who attended the school include: Melba Moore, Sarah Vaughn, and Savion Glover. While still in high school, Fuller worked in a professional choir, which paid for his voice and piano lessons. He received a scholarship to study at Westminster Choir College in New Jersey where he learned about singing and conducting with a choir.
He then went on to Colgate University, a liberal arts college, in Hamilton, New York. He joined the band Colgate 13 as lead vocalist. They traveled around the country, and the Virgin Islands. “I was so glad to get into that group,” he said. “They are friends for life.”
Colgate had concerts featuring Stevie Wonder and Bill Withers. Fuller had the opportunity to be the opening act for both artists. He continued to travel to England with Colgate 13 and ended up meeting Roberta Flack by taking a wrong turn in trying to find a bathroom!
Then Fuller married his first wife and moved outside of Kansas City, Missouri. He continued his music, singing for a band at a hotel. He also had his own group, The Stephen Fuller Quartet. And he sang the National Anthem for the NBA team. Fuller also recorded with a couple of songwriters. “We did original material,” he said. “Some was pretty good. I’m sorry it didn’t go anywhere.”
During his time in Kansas City, Fuller had two sons. When he returned to New Jersey, he joined some more bands including The Ted Klum Trio, and Vince Seneri in Platinum II.
An opportunity to perform in Japan came up, but Fuller had his family, and a day job at AT&T, which had him traveling the USA. Fuller continued to work full time and tried to sing in the evening, though his first wife didn’t like the idea of him singing.
For the next 25 years, he stopped doing music professionally. Instead, he sang at family events like weddings, and funerals. Then he got into real estate and was “so miserable.” For his health and sanity, Fuller left that business and returned to where his heart was — music.
Fuller divorced his first wife but said, “I got two great sons out of the deal.” Neither followed in Fuller’s steps as a musician. “They are smart,” he said, then chuckled. “They are both in finance.”
He met his second wife in the choir at his church. “We just hit it off,” he said. “Her daughter said, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice if Mr. Fuller dated Mommy?'” Fuller beams when speaking of his wife, who is very supportive of him, and his music. “We go out of our way to do nice things for each other,” he said.
In 2012, Fuller joined Jazz Vocal Collective, which is a group of jazz singers supporting each other. Fuller currently works both solo, and with his band Armani, which was formed in 2016.
“We’ve got some good things coming up this year,” Fuller said, “We’ve done big shows and big shows are coming up, including a bunch of Nat King Cole Christmas shows.” The King Cole Show was originally part of a project created by Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta called “The Learn & Listen Series,” which was presented in New Jersey libraries. Christiano-Mistretta would give a talk on the artist, followed by live music performed by Stephen Fuller. The Christiano-Mistretta/Fuller team also included Sammy Davis Jr. and Frank Sinatra in the series.
Fuller looks forward to debuting his Lionel Richie tribute and some new things for jazz projects. And learning new songs to perform in the nursing homes and libraries. “I have a lot of new things that’s gonna make me better at the end of all this,” he said, regarding the corona epidemic. “I feel we’ll be okay, and we’re going to get through this too.”
For more information on Stephen Fuller, visit his website at: https://www.fullersounds.com/
Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta can be reached at: email@example.com.
She is available for blogging, ghost writing, writing. She is also available for book signings and motivational speaking engagements. She is the author of the following books :
“Be (Extra)Ordinary: 10 Ways to Become Your Own Hero” is available on Amazon. To get your paperback or Kindle version, visit: https://www.amazon.com/Be-Extra-Ordinary-Ways-Become/dp/1733546227
“I Don’t Want to Be Like You” is available on Amazon. To get your paperback, Kindle or audio copy, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Dont-Want-Be-Like-You/dp/1726273261
“The Gypsy Smiled” is available on Amazon. To get your paperback or Kindle version, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Gypsy-Smiled-Maryanne-Christiano-Mistretta-ebook/dp/B074VC7MT9