Local Vocalist Spotlight: Wendy Fopeano

Apr 24, 2018

(l-r) Juli Royster, Wendy Fopeano, and Jill Fredericksen
Credit Susan Gatschet

Yet another stellar performer based in the Denver area is vocalist Wendy Fopeano. Wendy began her musical life as an instrumentalist, playing electric and acoustic bass, trumpet, guitar, and piano. That musical background allows her to sometimes abandon the melody and scat intelligently, vocally infiltrating the instrumental members of the band.

Wendy is very interested in ethnic music, especially Brazilian, Afro-Cuban, and Indian. She was invited to study Indian classical vocal techniques in Mubai, India, during a 1999 residency. Independently, she has studied tabla. She has also studied percussion used in Brazilian pagoda music.

Wendy’s first album, called "When There is Love," features arrangements/compositions by piano legend Art Lande and a great rhythm section of Dwight Kilian on bass and Jill Fredericksen on drums.

A 2007 CD, Raining on the the Roses, features Marc Sabatela and Jeff Jenkins on piano, Bill Kopper on guitar, Bijoux Barbosa on bass, and Jill Fredericksen on drums, plus guest artists.  The famous jazz writer Scott Yanow writes that Raining on the Roses makes “one wonder why she is not nationally famous.” I suggest you go to CDBaby’s web site, look for this CD, and listen to a sample of Watermelon Man. You’ll see why Yanow makes that comment! A soprano version of Watermelon Man?  It’s incredible!

Despite her current full-time college studies, Ms Fopeano stays busy these days singing at Herb’s Bar on Wednesdays at 8pm with owner Laura Newman (sax), Vlad Girshevich (B3), and Jill Fredericksen (drums) in the Laura Newman Group. Check out Herb’s calendar at herbsbar.com. Laura wants to cut a CD soon with this group. They’ve worked up some very original arrangements that promise to be quite exciting. Other recent Wendy gigs include a New Year’s Eve performance with the Greeley Philharmonic and a Dazzle show with Julie Monley performing obscure songs by Antonio Carlos Jobim.

For me, personally, my “Wow” moment with Wendy was when she was the vocalist with Dave Corbus at Dazzle, in a show featuring the music of Frank Zappa. This is highly complex music that could only be interpreted by musician’s musicians. Wendy sang these challenging pieces flawlessly.

Other projects with which she has been involved include a group called Jazzmin with Carmen Sandim, Juli Royster, and Jill Fredericksen; she contributed her voice to Janine Santana’s CD, Soft as Granite.