MAYS LANDING — When students of vocal coach Sal Dupree appear on such nationally televised singing contests as “The Voice” or “American Idol,” he gives them encouragement while sitting in a recliner in his living room.

“I lift my legs up, and I watch. Many a time, I jump out (of the chair), scream and applaud. When they are picked to go on further, I just yell, ‘Bravo, great performance, wonderful performance,’” said Dupree while in his living room, which is his “Happy Place” in his house.

Dupree works currently with Mara Justine, 17, of Galloway Township, who made it into the top 14 of “American Idol” last year.

Besides watching his students on TV, Dupree’s living room is special to him because it is open.

“I’m big. I like space. My wonderful wife (Chickie Dupree — they have been married 52 years) will set up a tray for me and feed me. Yes, I’m spoiled, I know. But most of us are via our wonderful wives,” Dupree said.

Dupree has had some medical issues recently, so he sat in his living room for the past 2½ months.

“I saw some great classic movies I grew up watching on the Turner channels. I love watching musicals naturally being a musician myself,” Dupree said.

Besides being a teacher of others, Dupree is a singer who has performed in numerous casinos, including Bally’s Atlantic City, Resorts Casino Hotel and Tropicana Casino and Resort and the former Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort.

At age 74, Dupree still teaches seven days a week at the Dupree Performing Arts Studio in Linwood. He will come home and fall asleep in his recliner in the living room watching a movie until his wife wakes him up to come to bed.

“When I do come home, this is my peace-and-quiet moment as they say,” Dupree said.

Staff Writer

Twenty years as a staff writer in the features department, specializing in entertainment and the arts at The Press of Atlantic City.

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