Born in Brooklyn, New York, Charley Rappaport began playing in college concert halls and coffeehouses in the early '60s. Early on he perfected his own style of performance of Gypsy music as leader of a number of groups - most recently The Great American Gypsies with Joseph Kovach and Mistral, with Dean Shumaker. He is also music director of The Gordon Neidinger Trio and plays guitar in that group. Charley has appeared as a soloist in New York's Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center and Town Hall, in Washington's Kennedy Center and in many other important venues in North America and Europe. He has 5 recordings to his credit, the latest being Before I Had a Red Tomato on Caravan Recordings.
In 1978 he co-founded The Balalaika and Domra Association of America, an international organization to preserve and proliferate Russian folk music and Russian folk instruments. In 1975 he founded the Houston Balalaika Society, in 1981 he founded the Atlanta Balalaika Society and in 1994 he co-founded the Atlanta Mandolin Society, all still thriving orchestras.
In 2003 he was the subject of the cover story of Mandolin Magazine, a national publication. In 2004 he was named a Master Folk Artist by the Pennsylvania Council for the Arts, and awarded a grant in conjunction with their Master/Apprentice program. In October of 2006 he assumed the posts of Executive and Music Director of the Pittsburgh Mandolin Society and he is conductor of the Pittsburgh Mandolin Orchestra. He has been teaching fretted instruments privately both in Pittsburgh and in Albion, PA since 2003.