Tamaqua man earns international songwriting recognition
DONALD R. SERFASS/TIMES NEWS Kevin Hoppes uses two microphones and a custom-designed audio system to reproduce the sounds of many of today's most popular artists.
A Tamaqua native might just be a breakthrough artist in a genre he spent five years toying with.
Kevin Hoppes is able to reproduce the sounds of a full orchestra, including live three and four-part harmonies, using his own voice and an elaborate audio system. The end result is music so crisp, clear and accurate that you can close your eyes and see the original band performing it. He also writes his own songs, including lyrics and melody.
That combination of skills by this self-taught artist has begun earning Hoppes accolades in the field.
He recently received the honor of being named a two-time finalist by the Song of the Year songwriting contest. Song of the Year is an international endeavor supporting VH-1's Save the Music Foundation. The Song of the Year judges are some of the biggest names in music, including many Grammy Award winners. This was not a local event. Hoppes competed against songwriters from all over the world.
"I recorded two songs. One of them was called 'Trust in God,'" said Hoppes, 57.
Working out of a studio housed on the third floor of his stone farmhouse along Route 443, Hoppes has written and produced two CDs.
His studio work, coupled with song writing abilities and recording experience, has helped him develop the ability to reproduce the sounds of many songs from the greatest classic pop music of the 50s through the 80s in a live performance.
What gave him the idea to dabble in this field?
In a sense, Hoppes gained motivation for his work through a level of disappointment. Having attended many concerts over the years, Hoppes often felt that the sound quality was not clear and crisp.
"It can sometimes be hard to listen to. The voice isn't distinct," he says. "When a lot of bands play, they sound muddy and the vocals are dull. I wanted to be able to produce the same sound you get from a high quality recording while listening through headphones or a top-of-the-line set of speakers. And even though it has taken me over 5 years to perfect this system, it does that and makes the music oh so sweet!"
His success is based on creativity and experimentation with key electronic components which include a T.C. Helicon voice processor, Rowland Guitar Synthesizer, two microphones, a Bose System II amplifier and speaker system, and more.
The setup was a bit costly, but the end result is a custom-designed system that gives Hoppes the ability - using his own voice - to accurately reproduce the sounds of artists like Dan Vogelberg, Billy Joel, Bob Seger, The Beatles, The Everly Brothers, The Kinks, The Moody Blues, David Bowie and countless others.
For example, his version of 'Judy Blue Eyes' by Crosby, Stills & Nash has been engineered with dynamics that make the listener believe he's at an actual CS&N concert.
Plus, all of Hoppes' work is live, not recorded, giving listeners a special treat.
"It sounds very close to the original," he says.
Hoppes and wife Cheryl have three grown children. He credits his father, the late Robert Hoppes, with introducing him to the joys of music. His father taught him to play the accordion, saxophone and guitar.
When he's not toying with his "concert hobby," Hoppes serves as vice president of sales for The Job Network, an online classified advertising service for newspapers.
Music lovers won't have to wait long to hear what Hoppes has created. His first concert is already scheduled.
He'll make his public debut on Saturday, December 12, from 6 to 8 p.m., when he'll perform live at The Restaurant at The Station, 18 N. Railroad St., Tamaqua.
More information is available by contacting Hoppes at (570) 952-4956 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.