jazz

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NJ Vocalist Working On New Projects During Coronavirus Lockdown

Published March 21, 2020 by Maryanne

EV3A4604 (2) (1)Stephen Fuller 

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: maryannechristiano@gmail.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

 

Another Full House at Finale of “Learn & Listen Series”

Published July 28, 2016 by Maryanne

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Stephen Fuller and Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta

Wednesday, July 27, 2016, Pear Tree Enterprises (http://www.peartreeenterprises.com/) concluded the “Learn & Listen” series at the Caldwell Public Library with “The Life and Music of Nat King Cole” featuring Stephen Fuller (http://www.fullersounds.com/).

The program is one-hour long. Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta presents a half hour biography on the life of Nat King Cole, followed by live music performed by Stephen Fuller.

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Last night was another full house with a waiting list! Songs included: “The Christmas Song,” “More,” “Mona Lisa,” and “Unforgettable.”

Thanks so much to Fran Larkey of the Caldwell Library for having this series every week for the entire month of July!

We even made the front page of the Caldwell News!

To have this program at your library, senior center, JCC, rotary club, etc., contact Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta at: maryannechristiano@gmail.com 

 

Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga, Bethel, N.Y., July 25, 2015

Published July 26, 2015 by Maryanne

SAM_8059Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga

It was such a perfect, summer evening to see an outdoor concert in Bethel, N.Y. — on the same grounds hippies graced at the famous Woodstock the summer of 1969.

My husband surprised me with tickets because I love Lady Gaga. Now, mind you, I am not qualified to call myself a “Little Monster” as I do not have any of her CDs. BUT I won’t turn her off when she’s on the radio. And from day one I just liked her for her unique style and sincere personality. (It was always great watching her on talk shows).  “Poker Face” is one of my favorite pop hits ever, as she sings in the same range as Cher and I’ve adored Cher since I was 7.

I figured a Lady Gaga show with Tony Bennett would be more my speed than a regular Lady Gaga concert, so when I heard about this, I hinted heavily that I wanted to go! But note, I don’t own any Tony Bennett records either. Still, it was thrilling to go see a man 88-years-old, that I was aware of since I was a little girl. The only older performer I ever saw was Les Paul who was in his 90s when I saw him perform.

So … going in not knowing what to expect except for the videos I saw on You Tube. I must say I was “wowed.” The show was phenomenal. The Bennett/Gaga duo was a perfect musical marriage. They did over 30 jazz hits together and solo. And during Tony Bennett’s solos, Lady Gaga went backstage for at least 10 costume changes. It was a fun show, kind of like a Las Vegas-y, burlesque, old school variety show. Their chemistry was fabulous, and I loved how Tony Bennett endearingly referred to her as “Lady” (instead of “Gaga” as her fans call her).

I had three favorite highlights of the evening:

1. When Lady Gaga sang La Vie En Rose (by Edith Piaf). It was moved to tears and gave her my own personal standing ovation for that one. What a voice!

2. When Tony Bennett sang his hit, “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.” He got a standing ovation from me on that one. And what a voice on this one too!

3. When they ended the show with “It Don’t Mean a Thing if It Ain’t Got That Swing” and Tony Bennett brought out his little dog! Then Lady Gaga seemed to be personally thanking their back-up band, which was so heart-warming to see. Moments like that go to show the true personalities behind the stage persona.

When I saw the set list from one of the other shows, I was saddened to see that this go ’round Tony Bennett didn’t do “Fly Me to the Moon” which is one of the few Frank Sinatra songs I like.

But other favorites of the evening were: Lady performing,”Bang Bang, My Baby Shot Me Down,” (a Cher song!); Tony Bennett doing, “Smile Though Your Heart is Aching,” (a Charlie Chaplin song); and the two doing, “The Lady is a Tramp.”

After the show, my husband and I has our own little late night picnic on the grounds after getting the most amazing vegetarian spring rolls at “Hungry Hungry Hippies.”

SAM_8086Best vegetarian spring rolls ever!

SAM_8045Enjoying the show!

Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta is the author of “On the Guest List: Adventures of a Music Journalist” available on Amazon in paperback version only: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/162903908X

“The Life and Music of Nat King Cole” (Learn and Listen Library Series)

Published May 11, 2015 by Maryanne

Nat King ColeNat King Cole

Maryanne Christiano Mistretta, of Pear Tree Enterprises (https://peartreeenterprises.wordpress.com/) is proud to present the third of the new “Learn and Listen” series, available to libraries, senior centers, assisted living facilities, rotary clubs, Jewish Community Centers, etc.

“Learn and Listen: The Life and Music of Nat King Cole” is a one-hour presentation, with Maryanne sharing the biography of prominent jazz legend, followed by a half hour of live music with the expressive, soul-stirring vocalist, Stephen Fuller as Nat King Cole! (http://www.fullersounds.com/)

For rates and availability, please contact Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta at: 908-276-1514 during business hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. or email: maryannechristiano@gmail.com

We look forward to sharing with you an “unforgettable” performance!