Erica Gimpel was surrounded by the sounds of music very early in life. Her mother, concert singer Phyllis Bash was 8 months pregnant with Erica while performing the aria “My Man’s Gone Now” in the opera “Porgy and Bess.” Ms. Bash recalls that Erica would move away from her diaphragm as if she knew when the high notes were coming, making room for enough breath to sustain them. Ms. Bash recalls fondly, “That was some of the best singing I had ever done in my life”.
As a child music would waft through her parent’s apartment ranging from Brahms and Schubert (her mother’s favorites) through her father’s collection of such jazz, blues and contemporary greats as Billie Holiday, Lester Young, Ray Charles, and the Beatles.
Growing up in Manhattan in the 70’s music continued being a big part of young Erica’s life. The Jackson Five, Marvin Gaye, Earth Wind and Fire, and The Isley Brothers were early influences. As she matured Erica discovered Carol King and James Taylor, but it was Stevie Wonder’s “Songs In The Key of Life” that proved to be revelatory. “Hearing the combination of different styles of music and how he brought them together in his own unique way was the moment the music opened up for me.” Songwriters Donny Hathaway, Joni Mitchell and Laura Nyro were also illuminating. “These artists had an honesty, a nakedness, a way of saying something personal which awakened my love of songwriting and gave me insight into the power of the singer/songwriter’s heartfelt expression”.
Ms. Gimpel was accepted into New York City’s famous High School for Performing Arts where she met and became dear friends with the very talented singer/songwriter Helen Slater. “We would sit at the piano and Helen would write songs and ask me to sing them with her. I marveled at her ability and the beautiful chords she chose. It was in those cherished moments my deep love of the piano was born”.
During her junior year Ms. Gimpel landed the role of “Coco” in the TV series that would go on to become an international success and encourage millions of young people around the world to “follow their dreams”…FAME. Suddenly Ms. Gimpel found herself relocating to Los Angeles, becoming an international star with platinum soundtracks, and doing concerts in sold out stadiums around the world. However, one of her favorite things remained sitting at the piano, playing for hours and simply allowing whatever came through her.
After FAME Ms. Gimpel returned to New York City determined to start formally taking piano lessons, and gratefully found “her teacher,” the extremely talented composer Noa Ain who focused on songwriting and shared her knowledge of the importance of painting pictures with words and then combining them with music. Ms. Gimpel felt as though she’d found what she’d been searching for and her journey in songwriting began.
Years later Ms. Gimpel would return to Los Angeles and reunite with her long time friend Helen Slater who had created a song lab of 6 singer/songwriters who would get together bi-monthly and share their songs in process. Many of the songs found on Ms Gimpel’s debut CD “Spread Your Wings and Fly” were born and nurtured in the lab along with the wonderfully insightful contributions to Ms. Gimpel’s playing by jazz piano teacher Bill Augustine.
Erica Gimpel received international acclaim for her performance as singer/dancer “Coco Hernandez” in the hit television series “FAME”. Since that time she has appeared in dozens of feature films and television shows. She played Angel in the NBC series "THE PROFILER" and appeared for six seasons as Adele Nueman in the Emmy Award-winning series "ER". Her most recent television credits include the Golden Globe winning series “GREY’S ANATOMY” and “HOUSE”, recurring on the Emmy Awarding-winning “BOSTON LEGAL”, and recurring on the CW hit “VERONICA MARS”. Some of Ms. Gimpel’s favorites include "TOUCHED BY AN ANGEL" opposite Tony Award-winner Phylicia Rashad, "JAG", and the Christmas fable "SANTA AND PETE" opposite the legendary James Earl Jones.
Ms. Gimpel's film credits include the Oscar nominated short "TUESDAY MORNING RIDE" with Oscar-Nominee Ruby Dee, Wayne Wang's "SMOKE" opposite Academy Award-winner Forest Whitaker, Abel Ferrara's cult classic “THE KING OF NEW YORK" with Academy Award-winner Christopher Walken, Hal Hartley's "NO SUCH THING" opposite Academy Award-winner Helen Mirren, and Disney's hit "FREAKY FRIDAY" opposite Jamie Lee Curtis. Ms. Gimpel has just completed shooting the independent films “BLUE EYES” shot in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil and “VERONIKA DECIDES TO DIE” based on the life-affirming book by Brazilian author Paulo Coelho.
While balancing a full acting career Ms. Gimpel is also a singer/songwriter blending the styles of Jazz/Pop/Alternative. She is currently performing in the Los Angeles area with her band, and is excited about the release of her debut CD “SPREAD YOUR WINGS AND FLY ~ ERICA GIMPEL LIVE” which is available on iTunes and has become one the top albums in the Jazz/Pop genre on CDbaby.com. Ms. Gimpel is also an active member of the world peace organization, the SGI-USA, dedicated to pursuing the values of peace, culture and education by committing to fostering within individuals a sense of responsibility for our shared global community.