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December 12, 2012

Area vocalists make recording in Manhattan

By Mark Boshnack
The Daily Star

---- — A recent trip to New York City could help keep a locally based vocal group busy.

The group Too Many Divas, which sings songs from the 1940s to ‘60s, was in a Manhattan recording studio in November, member Janet Lampo said. The group began performing about 10 years ago, and typically plays six to 10 shows a year.

Other current members include Michelle Gardner, Carol Dean, Claudia Koeppel and Mary-Jo Merk. Dan Chien is the regular piano accompanist. Merk, who lives in Fly Creek, teaches ballroom dancing at the State University College at Oneonta. The other members are from Oneonta.

The recording took place at the Outlet Collective recording studio in Manhattan, Merk said. She retired as a Cooperstown high school English and theater teacher before joining the group soon after its founding. One of her former students, Patrick Ermlich, is the studio owner, and offered to help record a publicity CD of songs, she said.

“We finally had an opportunity when we could all be together,” she said. “We had a wonderful time.”

The group was looking forward to hearing how the session turned out, she said.

Lampo, who has taught dance and performed in regional theater productions, said the members talked about a lot of different names for the group — including Belles and Whistles — but the name that was chosen seemed appropriate.

“We love what we do, and we love each other,” Lampo said. “We are all over 50, so for us to be able to perform and do songs we grew up with, it’s just amazing.”

“It seemed a struggle to develop a half-hour set at first,” she said. “Now, we can’t believe how many songs we know.”

They are still adding songs to the repertoire, she said. The new CD will be part of the group’s press package. While some thought was given to a commercial record, Lampo said she was not sure how that would turn out.

“We are live performers — more visual. We have great voices, but we have choreography and shtick. We plan some jokes but sometimes things just happen.”

Merk added: “We’ve all had stage experience. I think that shows.”

More information is available about the group at