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RUSKIN: American Idol hopeful is home-grown

Published on: August 8, 2018

American Idol hopeful

As country as a Ruskin tomato

By Stephen Flanagan Jackson

Charlie Zipperer practices the “throwback” country music classics as he looks forward to a private audition Aug. 25 in Orlando for a possible American Idol TV appearance.

Charlie Zipperer, 21, of Ruskin had been singing since he was 5 years old when he won first place for his age group at the Ruskin Tomato Festival.

Now, 16 years later, Zipperer is hoping to take his local talents as a country music crooner to a new level.

It’s American Idol or bust for Zipperer. The fourth generation Ruskinite has a live audition date on Aug. 25 in Orlando. American Idol is in its 16th season on ABC-TV. The singing competition series liked what they saw, and heard, from Charlie on a recent initial video audition. Now, Idol has invited Zipperer, a 2015 graduate of Lennard High School, for a private, non-televised audition. If his singing talents cut the mustard at that level, then it could be on to the national TV program, which is recognized as a springboard for unsigned singing talents launching a professional career.

Country music is somewhat difficult to define in this era of urban sprawl and crossover music. Country music has been referred to as country and western, hillbilly, and honky-tonk since bursting on the music scene out of the Tennessee Appalachian Mountains some 100 years ago. Often called America’s folk music, country music continues to be a popular genre what with Dolly Parton, Carrie Underwood, Garth Brooks and an endless array of stars continuing the tradition of Hank Williams, Johnny Cash and Charlie Pride.

Zipperer hopes to join that interminable list of former and contemporary country stars. Reed-thin and not much bigger around than the mic stand on the stage, Zipperer proudly incorporates the likes of Conway Twitty and George Strait into his gigs. For his next shot with Idol, he has been practicing in his home studio, belting out such numbers as “Make Me Look Good Again” by Drake White and “I Cross My Heart” by George Strait.

“I do this (singing) in memory of my grandmother who encouraged me to perform at the Ruskin Tomato Festival years ago,” said Zipperer, who works a full-time job at a Ruskin manufacturing facility, takes literature courses at Hillsborough Community College, raises a daughter as a single dad, and cares for his great-grandfather in the family home they share with 2-year-old Sophia on West College Avenue in Ruskin. “I sing to bring joy to others,” said Zipperer.

Zipperer brings passion and heartfelt emotion to a powerful, deep velvety voice, which resonates his country roots and natural country style. His current fan base ranges from young people to 85-plus. After singing 16 years for area festivals, churches, civic clubs, charity organizations and fundraisers, Zipperer is ready to take the next step toward his dream as a professional singer.

According to Kim Patterson, of Ruskin, a close supporter, Charlie’s main goal is to inspire others that no matter where you come from and no matter what you have been through, your dreams are always possible if you put your mind to it. “It’s been a true honor and blessing to become friends with this young man,” exclaims Patterson.

“Zipperer has such a big heart and compassion for people that no matter what is going on in his life he always tried (sic) to put a smile on someone else’s face, because he believes that true happiness lies in the happiness of others.”

Make no doubt. Zipperer is blessed with talent. Regardless of the outcome of the American Idol experience, it is just a matter of time before Zipperer is discovered, and signed, by a recording label or management agency. He is that good, and entertaining.

As country as a Ruskin tomato, Charlie Zipperer is looking for some fame and fortune in the country music world. Next hurdle — Orlando!