Alfie Zappacosta
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Alfie Zappacosta


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The best kept secret in music


"Italian-Canadian singing sensation Alfie Zappacosta explores adult romance on his new CD Start Again, and begins a string of Maritime shows this weekend at the ninth annual New Glasgow Jubilee."

Italian-Canadian singing sensation Alfie Zappacosta explores adult romance on his new CD Start Again, and begins a string of Maritime shows this weekend at the ninth annual New Glasgow Jubilee.

Zappacosta starts to tour again at Jubilee

New album and East Coast dates revive Canadian pop icon


ALFIE ZAPPACOSTA is always thinking about the future. The next song he wants to write, the next musical he appears in, the next show he has to perform.

But lately he's also been thinking about the past, and where the road has taken him. His new CD Start Again combines reworked versions of four of his best-known songs, making them sound as fresh and impassioned as the new material exploring the multi-faceted world of adult relationships.

Zappacosta revisits songs old and new onstage in the Maritimes starting on Friday at the New Glasgow Jubilee, followed by shows at Trailside Café in Mount Stewart, P.E.I. on Monday and Tuesday, Th'YARC in Yarmouth on Friday, Aug. 6, and finally Halifax's Marquee Club on Sunday, Aug. 15 for a special candlelight and cuisine evening. (Dinner and show package for $40, and show-only tickets for $15 at the door or $10 advance at No Records, Sam's on Barrington, Biscuit, The Marquee or by phone at Neptune Theatre's box office, 429.7070.)

Looking at how the past affects the present will also be the topic of a Bravo TV biography currently in the works, one that would cover more than just Zappacosta's three decades as a Juno Award-winning singer-songwriter.

"I thought they must be kidding, but we're talking about it," says the loquacious 50-year-old over a coffee at Dartmouth's Incredible Edibles. "We're looking at old pictures tracing the life of an Italian-Canadian - my mother came through Pier 21 here on the Volcania, I had a little cry about that retracing her steps - so there's a lot of information.

"We'll talk about the fact that I'm never leaving Canada. I'll travel where the work takes me, I've been all over the place, but I'm staying right here. I feel a bit silly about making a film about it, I feel like I really haven't done anything, but then they tell me I've had an interesting career in this industry. I still feel a bit silly about it though."

Finding footage and photos for the piece will be an interesting adventure, although there's one clip Zappacosta says likely won't appear. It's the original video for one of his signature tunes, We Should Be Lovers - which gets a thoughtful do-over on Start Again - which he considers one of those things you do early in your career that you don't want to hear about after maturing as an artist.

"It was the first video I ever did, and they had me wrestling in jello," he says with an incredulous look on his face. "You know how cold jello is? Sometimes you wonder about the people you trust to make decisions for you. Here I was, rolling around in a pool of jello with two female wrestlers kicking the living snot out of each other.

"Somehow this fit the theme of We Should Be Lovers; I'm kissing the wrestlers, and then while they're beating each other up, I'm hitting on someone else at the bar. I don't care if I never see it again, although you should have seen the reaction we got from women's groups after that hit the airwaves . . . "

Still, Zappacosta admits it makes for a great story, the kind that breaks up audiences between songs about heartbreak and longing that he's mastered with Mediterranean flair. While on the road over the next month, he'll be taking a stripped down approach to those songs with Silvio Pupo on keyboards and bassist Danny Sutherland, fleshing out the trio to a five-piece at the Marquee with saxophonist Jeff Goodspeed and Tom Roach on drums.

It's to his credit that songs like the sultry single And We'll Dance and the dramatic Chloe, You Thief translate so well to a trio or small band format, considering the layered production on Start Again from Glenn Morley (Gino Vanelli), befitting the lush romanticism of the lyrics.

"I wrote songs that were very theatrical, trying to make a record that would be very mature, knowing at 50-years-old that I'm going to be singing real songs for the next 20 years," he says.

"I don't want so much to be doing big, pop, Celine Dion-type tunes . . . not that there's anything wrong with making money, but I still want to be involved with writing my tunes, and the idea that they can be very theatrical, or just stripped down to acoustic guitar."

As for remaking four of his best-known songs, Zappacosta says that was a suggestion of his record label - EMI Music Canada-distributed Marquis - that he felt would be an appropriate reflection of where he is as a performer right now.

"I'd been doing stripped down versions for a long time, and with the title Start Again we're talking about a song I wrote 30 years ago," he says. "But there were people born 30 years ago who've never heard this stuff, so how apropos is that, for them to hear Start Again for the first time?

"It's still a nice story, I mean I never had a brother who worked in plastics, but the emotion of it still works. 'We can't be lovers anymore, but can we still sleep together every now and then?' It's a nice thought, and the emotional intensity of the song hasn't changed."

And as a nod to his Italian roots, the CD ends with his first recording in his native tongue, the classic ballad Tu Si Na Cosa Grande, a song he used to sing at weddings when I was a kid. Sidestepping schmaltz, he goes for an intimate approach that suggests he could do a whole record of Italian canzoni.

"A lot of these songs, people will get the idea it's like Dean Martin Sings Italian Love Songs," laughs Zappacosta, launching into an impromptu version of Volare.

"On some of these songs you want them to ooze romance on purpose, 'Milk it Alfie, milk it!' But it's still a little early to make a commitment to a project like that. It seems like something that makes a lot of sense for me to do . . . these songs about these guys whose hearts are always broken, the ultimate in unrequited love."
- The Chronicle Herald

"Jazzy Alfie"

 Alfie Zappacosta has surprised his fans at least three times.

First, after achieving success as a pop star in Toronto during the '80s, even winning a Juno in 1984, he inexplicably moves to Edmonton. Then he suddenly decides he's a jazz singer. Really. He's even managed to convince Jazz City producer Marc Vasey, who knows his jazz, perhaps too well. Zappacosta plays tomorrow night at Tin Pan Alley in a double bill with fellow jazz singer Vivianne Cardinal.

Edmonton, jazz singer ... if ever there was a recipe for obscurity, this is it, though Alfie doesn't necessarily see it that way.

"I'm staying," he says. "My kids love it here. My daughter's now 19, my son's 14. They're in great schools, have great friends. I'm really pleased to be able to say that as far as my career goes, I won already. My kids love me and we're very close. And at this point, I have to say I'm learning to go on the road. And my daughter said to me, 'we're not carrying any baggage, dad, so stop worrying about it. You guys did a good job.' I got all choked up."

No surprise here. Zappacosta is a man in touch with his emotions.

The third surprise was a doozy - after a brush with death from pancreatitis five years ago that landed him in intensive care, the singer is busier than ever.

"I realized that I have an awful lot to do," he says. "I'm not afraid of the idea of dying. It was more of the quality of life. I was very lucky not to be so ill that I'd be carrying it around for the rest of my life. I'm totally recovered now, but I was in a hurry at that point. I think it was a mid-life crisis that caused the stress and everything else that happened."

Alcohol played a part, too, he admits, but mostly it was the stress. This fails to explain why he's got more on his plate now than before he got sick.

In addition to releasing a pair of studio albums in a jazzy, George Benson-ish vein, Zappacosta has distinguished himself in musical theatre, starring in Jesus Christ Superstar and more recently Evita at the Mayfield Dinner Theatre. He's soon off to points east to tour and record two live albums in Toronto, one a "greatest hits" type of thing, the other a collection of diehard jazz standards.

This is a way to let the die-hard jazz fans know that "I am worthy," he says. Alfie doesn't seem to mind having to prove himself a second time as a jazz singer. It was the obvious choice for a 48-year-old singer who's been described - by himself - as a hopeless romantic.

"I always loved to just sit there with a classical guitar and a great little combo behind me and know that people would come to listen to what you're doing, rather than people slinging beer all around you and shouting, 'Sabbath!' Even way back then I was writing songs that were a little bit more intricate anyway, so it was a real natural progression. Not to mention the fact that I'm at an age group right now that it makes all the sense in the world, and I know that in the next 40 years of my life, I'll be able to do music I enjoy."

Not that he doesn't still enjoy his older pop hits, though songs like When I Fall In Love Again and We Should be Lovers have been recast in a light-jazz, easy listening, whatever-you-wanna-call-it sound - "mature musical music," he suggests.

(Mature musical music?) OK. As for the musical theatre career, despite rave reviews, including our own Colin MacLean, who wrote that Alfie's performance was the only thing that saved Evita - that's going on hold for a while.

"In my heart, I still want to go out and perform my music as much as possible," Zappacosta says. "Besides, I'm starting to get a little bit too old to do any of these Jesus Christ Superstar things. I'm more Moses now. Somebody should write something about Moses."

I can hear it now: a musical number called Let My People Go, complete with a kick line at the end. Keep it to yourself. We don't want to give Andrew Lloyd Webber any more dangerous ideas.
- By MIKE ROSS Edmonton Sun

"Alfie gets serious"

Here's to new beginnings.

It's something that former Canadian pop rock artist Alfie Zappacosta is putting a great deal of faith in, as he embarks full time on an independent career as a serious, easy-listening singer-songwriter.

"We're starting from scratch," Zappacosta says from his home in Edmonton, relating a fair amount of optimism in his new career.

"For me to be able to sing songs and know that people are going to come out ... and actually hear them -- what a wonderful concept to make a living doing what you love to do."

The artist's new quiet approach, which will be on display tomorrow at the Triwood Community Centre and Sunday at Karma Local Arts House, runs contrary to how most Canadians came to know him in his late '70s band Surrender and then in the '80s as a solo

artist releasing such hits as We Should Be Lovers and Overload, which was featured on the Dirty Dancing soundtrack.

But, according to Zappacosta, why he's doing what he's doing now and why he first started have a great deal in common.

"Lets say it was a bit of a delusional time," he says of his days in Surrender. "But without putting any nasty marks on anyone in particular, we didn't know what we were doing.

"What we did start with was the obvious -- we were naive and our hearts were in the right places and we'd studied a lot of music and we wanted to do all the right things.

"Now it's come full circle and I figure I can go out there and play some more sophisticated music ... and have people accept the fact I'll the fact I might just be standing there with a piano player and my classical guitar."

Pushing him along in his new direction was a mid-'90s brush with death that saw Zappacosta incapacitated for almost a year with pancreatic cysts and then a bacterial infection that was attacking his internal organs.

"It put me in a bit of a hurry for sure," he says of the experience.

"It didn't change my want to make things happen, it just honed it in a focused it a little better for me."
- By MIKE BELL - Calagry Sun


CD’s/Recordings – Surrender and No Surrender (2004), Start Again (2004), Dark Sided Jewel (1999), Innocence Ballet (1995), Quick! Don’t Ask Any Questions (1990), Over 60 Minutes with Zappacosta (1987), A-Z (1986), Zappacosta (1984), No Surrender (1982), Surrender (1981)

Singles – Start Again (2005), And We’ll Dance (2004), Tears of Hercules (2004) Adilina (2000), Someone (US Release –1995), Me and Mrs. Jones (US Release –1995), Lombard Street (US Release -1995), Show Me (US Release -1995), Orlanda (US Release -1995), Simple Words to Say (1991), I’ll Be The One (1991), Letter Back (1990), Nothing To Do With Love (1990), Nothing Can Stand In Your Way (1987), When I Fall (In Love Again) (1986), Start Again (1986), We Should Be Lovers (1985), Passion (1984), Buddy (1980), No Surrender (1980), Turn Down The Mission (1979), Find Your Way (1979)

Other Songwriting Credits - Do I Dare - with John Capeck Where the Money Goes, Recorded by Loverboy - Album "Wildside" (1987), Midnight Mirage Recorded By Jennifer Rush (1986), Nothing Can Stand in Your Way with David Foster (1987), Dirty Dancing Soundtrack Overload (1988)

Videos - Start Again (2005), I’ll Be The One (1991), Letter Back (1990), Turn It On (1990), When I Fall In Love Again (1986), We Should Be Lovers (1985), Tears Are Not Enough – African Relief Project (1984)

Awards - Juno – Album of the Year (1988), American Music Award – Most Popular Album of the Year (1988), Canadian Publisher’s Music Association – Best Rock Recording (1988), Juno - Most Promising Male Vocalist (1984)

Award Nominations - Canadian Smooth Jazz Awards - Male Vocalist of the Year (2005) - Canadian Smooth Jazz Awards - Album of the Year - Start Again (2005)

Acting Credits - Only in Canada Eh? - Edmonton - 04/05, Halo - The Motion Picture - Primary role - DZ Newell Film set to be released (2005), British Invasion America Strikes Back (2004) you dream - Feature Role - Henry Clerval - Starring - Michael Burgess and Rik Emmitt (2003) Evita - Portraying Che Guevara - Edmonton (2002), Jesus Christ Superstar- Portraying Jesus - Neptune Theatre Halifax (2001), Hair - Lead Role - Berger - Edmonton (1995), Jesus Christ Superstar - Portraying Jesus - Edmonton (1994), Walt Disney’s Danger Bay - Episode – Rock Star (1986), EVITA - Portraying Che Guevara - Neptune Theatre Halifax (1985)

Some Television Appearances - Canada AM – 2004 - Viva Dominica (2004) - The Weekend Duffers – The Sports Network – 2003, The Vicki Gabareau Show – 2002, A-Channel Wired – Alberta – 2002, Careers TV – The Learning Channel – 2002, CBC Television –2002, Global Noon – One Hour on Zappacosta – 2002

Notable Highlights – Canadian Smooth Jazz Awards - (2005), Doug Gilmour and Friends (2004), RAI International – Special Canadian Edition- 2004, Zappacosta and Gina Vanelli in Concert – 2003, Alan Frew and Friends – (Benefit for Camp Trillium), Canadian Special Olympics - (Wrote, Produced and performed the Anthem), We Are Making History (Let The Games Begin), Children Hospital – Toronto -Profiled their theme song, Easter Seals – Television. (Performed their Anthem), 4th most added singles "Innocence Ballet" - The Gavin Report – California


Feeling a bit camera shy


Light a few candles, pour the wine and leave it to Mr. Romance - a class act adorned in tailor made suits and Italian charisma. His live performance is powerful combining, well written material and tasteful nylon string guitar (performed by Zappacosta). Zappacosta's theatrical flair is present and his cultural background comes through loudly. While the overall tone of the evening is mellow, his vocal prowess is anything but leaving audiences feeling the effects of the evening long after the last note is sung.

Alfie Zappacosta has a distinguished career and still today, he continues to write compelling lyric and melody. Yes Alfie Zappacosta is a songwriter! He is also an accomplished guitarist, premier vocalist and actor. In 1995, Zappacosta left his pop stardom behind to pursue a more intimate style of writing and performing.  

The roots of his new sound started when Zappacosta began playing solo before crowds at a Toronto club. Playing only guitar, he explored new harmonies and melodies, later combing rootsy elements such as harmonica and accordion, which eventually manifested itself in a contemporary Jazz/AC sound. His passion for beautiful melodies and grand songs manifested into three stunning CD's - Innocence Ballet, Dark Sided Jewel and is latest recording Start Again. Zappacosta penned 10 new songs for Start Again, which was produced by renowned Canadian composer Glenn Morley (Gino Vanelli), and recorded them at Toronto’s Tambre Productions. Zappacosta signed a multi-CD deal with Toronto-based Marquis Records and secured a licensing deal with EMI Music Canada. He has just finished his latest video Start Again.
Written nearly 30 years ago, the message behind the album’s title track “Start Again” remains relevant today, which explains its ongoing popularity and makes it the perfect title for this recording. “It’s about not giving up or being afraid of change, which can be scary,” says Zappacosta. “The emotional part of that message is timeless and universal.”

An evening with Zappacosta is presented as a trio with Cuban pianist Silvio Pupo and Italian virtuoso Claudio Vena on viola and accordion. The music is rich, powerful, polished and romantic. And while you will find some of his most popular songs in the mix, you will not hear the huge production that once accompanied these classics. The songs are stripped down showcasing why a great song needs only an incredible voice and a masterful delivery.   

Zappacosta has two Juno Awards, for Most Promising Male Vocalist and Album of the Year, and an American Music Award, for Most Popular Album of the Year. He has written for his own production company, gone solo on his own label, fronted the rock band Surrender, performed lead roles in Evita, Hair, Jesus Christ Superstar and Frankenstein, collaborated on the Dirty Dancing soundtrack, released eight original albums including Dark Sided Jewel, Innocence Ballet and most recently, Start Again. He is also an actor and has appeared in movies and television. His latest work sees Alfie maturing even further placing him comfortably among the world's finest artists/entertainers.

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