A little piece of Las Vegas showbiz will make its way to Ball State this evening as a part of the School of Music’s Art of Jazz series.
Steve Lippia, a singer who regularly headlines Vegas shows paying tribute to older, traditional pop artists such as Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett, will perform with the Ball State Jazz Ensemble in “A Las Vegas Show Tribute to Frank Sinatra.”
Not only is he looking forward to playing the show, but also the educational merit it will give to the ensemble.
“It’s a learning opportunity for the students,” Lippia said. “And a chance for them to perform some excellent musical arrangements ... It’s really challenging music, so it’s a good thing for them to be exposed to.”
Jennifer Johnson, who will direct one of the jazz bands, said many of the students have been exposed to Sinatra in some form, but this might be first time for some of the younger ones who are playing.
Mark Buselli, director of Jazz Studies, said this also gives the audience a chance to witness a “tried-and-true Las Vegas show” in their own backyard.
The performance will pay tribute to Sinatra, a singer that Lippia is frequently compared to. Some even go as far as to refer him as a Sinatra impersonator. But Lippia does not see it that way.
“To each his own, but that’s not what I do at all,” Lippia said. “My voice happens to be very naturally similar to that of Sinatra’s, but I’m not trying to be him, look like him or emulate him.”
In fact, Lippia is a singer of the Great American Standards. He covers songs previously performed by Sammy Davis Jr., Bennett, Vic Damone and more in addition to Sinatra songs.
Rather than impersonating them, he believes in putting his personality into the songs he sings.
“I think it’s really important to put your own stamp on something,” Lippia said. “Otherwise, you sort of lose yourself to some other person’s image.”
Putting his own stamp on things has been working for him. During his music career, he’s had the opportunity to work with Steve Sigman, who used to play with Ray Charles, and Vincent Falcone, who has conducted music for Sinatra and Bennett.
Lippia cites many of the traditional pop artists as personal favorites, but he’s also a rock ‘n’ roll fan, something that he attributes to growing up in the 1970s. He’s a big fan of artists such as Chicago and Steely Dan, the latter of which he recently saw perform in Vegas.
Though he has accomplished much in his career, there are a still a couple of things he would like to try, such as performing in a Broadway show or writing music of his own and collaborating with a lyricist to come up with an original standard.
The show will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Sursa Performance Hall. General admission is $7 and $5 for students.