Lupo, who has an Italian father and a half-Italian mother, grew up with music all around her. “My [maternal] grandparents sang in church choirs in New York, where my mother grew up,” she says. “My mother had a beautiful voice; I was always around music and I loved to sing.” She too enjoyed choir singing (in high school), yet earned a degree in dance at Northwestern University.
Though Lupo was always dancing post graduation, the singing bug never left her. “Seven years out of college I decided to do more with bands, and I was in my late 20s when I considered myself more of a singer.” (In a return to bodily grace, Lupo now leads annual yoga retreats in Italy to Orvieto, located in southwestern Umbria.)
As a singer, Lupo first worked with Italian bandleader Frank Amorosi, a noted veteran of the Chicago area scene. From Lupo’s work with him, she learned how to lead a band; over the past 15 years, she has entertained audiences at the Peninsula Hotel, Ritz-Carlton, Park Hyatt and North Shore Country Club.
“The most rewarding part of my work is to feel the appreciation and see the joy of people happy with the music,” says Lupo, who works with eight musicians. “It’s exciting when the band exceeds expectations and the party goes better that they ever thought it could. That’s especially true at weddings, where it’s a once in a lifetime event. It’s a great responsibility and I want to make sure I do the best job I can.”
Given her Italian lineage, it makes sense that Lupo excels at standards made popular by Frank Sinatra (“All the Way”) and Tony Bennett (“Fly Me to the Moon”). But her band covers music stretching from the Big Band era to Motown classics to contemporary hits. Behind it all stands Lupo, boasting a voice as creamy as a warm latte sipped by the Trevi Fountain.
Yet you don’t need an invitation to hear Lupo display her talents live. Several times a month she performs with pianist Jeremy Kahn, usually on Thursdays and Fridays, at Perry’s Steakhouse & Grille, a fine dining restaurant in Oak Brook.
“We sing all the songs in the Great American Songbook,” she says. “That’s all we do: Sinatra, Bennett, Diana Krall, Michael Buble. And we perform four or five sets a night, so we have to play an expansive repertoire.”
That said, “As you get older, it’s easier to fall back on the music you know,” she notes. “But working in the band, I have to stay current. It’s great fun and keeps me young.”