May 15, 2008
The Newspaper of the NYSSCPA
Vol. 11, No.9

Tax Song Trilogy
Singing CPA Releases Third CD at Bookstore Gig

By Valerie Lum, Trusted Professional Staff

While some tax preparers sang the blues as April 15 approached, one CPA just kept on rocking.

With less than a week until the tax deadline, Steven Zelin, better known as “The Singing CPA,” released a new CD—“The Singing CPA”—on his own label and hosted a record release party at Borders in midtown Manhattan.

Zelin was a CPA at a Big Four firm for eight years before he caught the songwriting bug. But he hasn’t left the profession behind—he sings about it all the time in songs like “A Charitable Contribution (Makes the Tax Bill Go Down)” and “Audit Client Blues.”

It’s not always easy to do the starving artist thing, even when you’re singing about taxes, so Zelin maintains a private CPA practice in New York. He’s also still active in the profession—he sits on the Society’s Taxation of Individuals and Not-for-Profit Organizations committees.

Although he usually plays solo acoustic sets at such venues as the post office on April 15, Zelin brought something special to the bookstore for the event.

“I felt like it was a good occasion to have a band,” Zelin said.

Dressed in a suit, tie, and glasses, Zelin looked more businessman than rock star, but behind him was a three-piece band that included a drummer, guitarist, and keyboardist Rob Taube, who is Zelin’s tax client when he’s not his bandmate.

Once Zelin and the band finished warming up, Zelin began his set with his version of The Village People’s “YMCA,” except he changed some of the letters. Zelin’s version is called “My CPA.” The live version comes complete with Zelin using arm gestures to spell out C-P-A. Some audience members participated. Almost all of Zelin’s songs are parodies of well-known show tunes or pop songs—think “Weird Al” Yankovic with an eyeshade.

At his CD release party, Zelin peppered his set with jokes, passed around his card, and dispensed fake money to the audience that had gathered by the discount book area of Borders. Despite the luxury of performing with a backing band, Zelin was at the James Farley Post Office in Manhattan on April 15, accompanied only by his acoustic guitar, to entertain last-minute taxpayers—something that has become an annual tradition for “The Singing CPA.”

“It’s my favorite season of the year,” Zelin sang. “Tax season.”

How does an accountant become a singing CPA?

Zelin, who has played guitar since high school, decided four years ago to bring some musical cheer to the last-minute taxpayers at the James Farley Post Office. He played until midnight and was such a big hit with his song parodies, that he quit his day job to pursue his music.

Zelin released his first CD, Just Take a Sick Day, in 2005. To do so, he traveled to Hendersonville, Tenn., to work with producer Fred Bogert, who has worked on three Grammy-nominated albums. Lelin said.

In 2006, Zelin released a children’s album, Magical Boxes, which won a 2006 iParenting Media Award for Outstanding Children’s Product, Zelin said.

Zelin’s song work has gained the attention of various media outlets, including the Wall Street Journal and the New York Daily News. He’s also a regular radio guest on The Joey Reynolds Show. Zelin has gotten top billing at another annual event—-a recent Society Annual Leadership Conference.

For more information on Steven Zelin, “The Singing CPA,” visit www.thesingingcpa.com.

Valerie Lum, Staff Writer, can be reached at vlum@nysscpa.org.

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