Following his long legit and musical theatre career, jazz was given a somewhat late but now is a major focus of Gary Brumburgh these days.
Born in Buffalo and raised in a small suburb of North Tonawanda, New York, Gary’s strong singing voice was most likely inherited from his mother, classical singer/pianist/teacher Doris (née Howe) Brumburgh Maretti. He studied piano under his mother’s guidance at age 7 and was playing Rachmaninoff by 12 before giving it up entirely, preferring voice and acting instead. Acting was a wonderful escape and Gary made his theatre debut at age 14 playing minor sleuth Archie Carstairs in the murder mystery comedy Home Sweet Homicide. Turning from chicken to ham very quickly, he loved the applause and starred in in various other school plays and was a prime member/soloist of his high school’s advanced chorus program.
The early to mid 1960’s was the era of The Beatles and Motown, major influences both, but Gary also held a great secret passion and was heavily influenced by a number of established film/recording crooners such as Gordon MacRae, Peggy Lee, Dick Haymes, Vic Damone, Eddie Fisher, Matt Munro, and especially Jack Jones and Barbra Streisand. Convinced by his mother that a career in entertainment was not financially sound, he temporarily abandoned his dream and instead left “the big chill” of Buffalo upon his 1968 high school graduation and headed for the warmer climate of Florida where he attended the University of South Florida majoring in elementary education. Unfulfilled after three years of teaching in the public school system, he returned to college (this time, Florida State University) and received a second Bachelor of Arts in Fine Arts.
While part of the FSU School of Drama, Gary was given a wide range of legit and musical roles from Motel in Fiddler on the Roof to the Spider in Bijan Mofid’s fantasy The Butterfly. During this period of time, he also was asked to be the lead singer with the jazz/rock group The Winko King Band. The band toured Georgia, Virginia and North Carolina during the summer of 1975 before disbanding. The following year he performed as a soloist/member of the All-American Showtimers at Callaway Gardens, Georgia.
He performed leads at Daytona Beach’s Summer Rep’s musical productions before transporting himself out West to southern California (Costa Mesa) in 1977 and joining The Yellow Brick Road Company, a children’s theatre group, that toured Orange and Los Angeles counties in interactive plays designed to spark social and educational values to elementary school children.