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BACK TO PRESS / Fort Myers News Press

Fort Myers' Flutist Kat Epple has Played The World Over and Won Eight Emmy Awards. By Maureen Bashaw

Flutist Kat Epple draws attention where ever she goes - both on and off and stages in Southwest Florida,New York and Europe.

But it's not because Epple who performs regularly at Royal Palm Square in Fort Myers and is an  eight-time Emmy Award Winner, boasts or puts on airs!

"I don't think people around here realize all she's done," good friend and noted Captiva artist Darryl Pottorf says. "She's very humble."

"We're lucky to have Kat Epple living here," says filmmaker Stuart Brown of Fort Myers, another good friend. "She travels all over, but she always comes back here.

"This place is small enough that one person can make a difference," says Epple, who's lived in California and New York and has traveled the world. "I love this place it's home."

As she sits on a couch in the living room of her small concrete block home on a back street in North Fort Myers, her hands dance and her eyes gleam as she tells of her two most recent honors.

One is playing flute at the opening of world-renowned artist Robert Rauschenberg's show at the new Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, last November. She also played at the opening of the artist's show at the Guggenheim in New York in 1997.

The other: Winning an Emmy Award- her eight- also in November, for her musical contribution to "Children of the Fourth World" produced by Fort Myers filmmaker John Biffar. It Aired on PBS.

The background music for television soap operas "Another World" and "Guiding Light" which she's started receiving royalty checks for. She said, after submitting many tapes to TV studios, that what they were after was scary stuff,

"They want the maniac-in-the-bushes sort of apprehensive music, so that's what I give them," Epple says with a laugh as she shows off her recording studio, created by knocking out a wall between two small bedrooms at the back of her home.

But Epple isn't in making lots of money, just enough so she doesn't have to ever worry, enough so she can continue to volunteer her time and talents.

That's why she lives in this small house that looks very ordinary from the outside. Once inside though, it's like being in an intimate gallery.

Original paintings by Rauschenberg, and Pottorf and other well-known artists hang on the walls. More paintings lean on the walls. She says she has to save up money for the frames.

"I keep a low profile on the outside," she says. "Only a few people know where I live. I've pared everything down so I don't have to work so hard to make money or to make big payments."

People who know Epple talk of her simple life style.

"She's cleared her life of all the extraneous stuff so she can focus on what really matters to her," Stuart Brown says.

"Oh, I was the egghead, the artist" she says of her school years. "I was terribly shy. I'm more outgoing now."

But Epple still can't quite believe the life she's living.

"I think it still amazes her the people she hobnobs with, like Bob Rauschenberg and his friends," says artist Elaine Hayes of SyZyGy galley at Royal Palm Square. "She doesn't seem to realize people want her to be with them."

Pottorf who met Epple when both were students at Edison Community College in the 70's is on of the people who introduced her to Rauschenberg.

"She's invited to all the parties at Bob's (Rauschenberg's beach house). "She's one of his favorite people.

" It was Epple's music that caught Pottorf's attention. She played often at concerts around ECC campus.

"When she's playing, she connects so totally with her music. It's like herself flowing through," he says.

And Pottorf says Epple has something else going for her.

"She has the kind of inner charisma that comes around rarely," he says.



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