What Ever Happened to… Marc Copage?

In 1968, the sitcom Julia became the first TV series with a Black woman in the leading role. The barrier-breaking show, which aired for three seasons, starred Diahann Carroll as a widowed nurse and newcomer Marc Copage as her young son Corey. Copage, now 52, caught up with to discuss his latest ventures.

JET: What have you been up to?

Marc Copage: I returned to school to study jazz improvisation and to become a jazz musician. I’m playing piano in a jazz combo, and singing. I have to fit in these things around my work schedule. I also make time to dance a couple times a week.

JET: What do you appreciate about jazz?

MC: What I like most about jazz is the spontaneity of it. You can listen to a jazz artist do multiple recordings of the same song and it will be a bit different. To be a good jazz artist you have to be living in the moment as the notes you play are inspired by the music that’s being played around you. It’s quite exciting. I also wanted to study jazz and blues because, at my age, I don’t think there’s much of a chance anymore of my being a pop singer. Jazz and blues tend to attract an older audience.

JET: Who are your jazz idols?

MC: Some jazz musicians I really like are McCoy Tyner, Ahmad Jamal, Al Jarreau, Miles Davis, Louis Armstrong, John Coltrane, Nina Simone, Kurt Elling, Andy Bey, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Art Tatum, Oscar Peterson, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, Phineas Newborn Jr., Cab Calloway, Clifford Brown, Joe Henderson, Tony Bennett, Diana Krall, Dinah Washington, Joe Williams, Eddie Jefferson, Ella Fitzgerald, Etta James, Eva Cassidy, Horace Silver, Keith Jarrett, Lou Rawls, Mark Murphy, Nat King Cole, Ray Charles, Sarah Vaughan and Thelonious Monk. I haven’t even included the names from pop, rock and soul music. I’m inspired and influenced by a lot of people.

JET: What professional impact did Diahann Carroll have on you?

MC: I suppose through osmosis I must have learned quite a bit, just from working with her on a daily basis. When I became much older, I could really appreciate her talent and the legend that she is.

JET: Do you keep in touch with her?

MC: Not really. Every now and then they have me surprise her at an award show or other public function. The last time was a Mother’s Day tribute given by the SAG Foundation or something like that. They had a bunch of TV moms and the people who played their sons or daughters present them flowers.

JET: Any current projects?

MC: Right now, finishing my autobiography is at the forefront of my agenda. I should have it wrapped up in another seven or eight installments.

JET: What made you decide to write an autobiography?

MC: (laughing) That will be revealed in my closing chapter.

JET: How much of it is tongue-in-cheek?

MC: It’s based off of events and things that actually happened in my life. Though I try to have a sense of humor about things it’s not really intended to be tongue-in-cheek.

JET: What type of feedback on your autobiography have you been receiving from fans and/or publishers?

MC: The feedback has been good. I’ve been sharing excerpts with my Facebook friends and via my website. I’m just trying to get an idea of what people are interested in hearing about. After I finish the first draft I will probably seek some advice on how I can take this project to the next level.

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