JCJC students learn from Grammy winner, Laurel Massé

Written By: Teresa McCreery-Jennifer Hart contributed to the story
Email Address: teresa.mccreery@jcjc.edu
Date Submitted: 2015-04-16 09:37:24

ELLISVILLE – Private lessons are required of music majors, however some Jones County Junior College students had the unique opportunity to learn from one of the founders of the jazz quartet, Manhattan Transfer. The vocal ensemble, JC Voices spent a Saturday morning under the tutelage of Grammy Award winner, Laurel Massé. JC Voices, directed by Fine Arts Division Chair, Dr. Susan Smith, said she and the students really appreciated Massé’s insight.
 
“It’s good to have different ideas and suggestions about performing, especially jazz. Ms. Massé does this more and the Manhattan Transfer performed a lot of the songs JC Voices performs,” said Dr. Smith.
 
Her forty years in the music business also impressed sophomore pharmacy major, Lauryn Easley. The Laurel native was excited about practicing with the lady who was instrumental in the beginnings of the vocal jazz revolution in the 1970’s.  
 
“It’s not often you get to work with someone who has won a Grammy award!” said Easley. She added, “I have really enjoyed learning these pieces. They are fun to sing and it’s a challenge for us since the style and range are so different than the other repertoire we have recently performed.”
 
Three of the songs the group performed for Massé, Java Jive, Trickle, Trickle and A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square were also Manhattan Transfer favorites. While performing A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square, Massé teared up at the student’s performance.
 
Connecting with her on a deeply emotional level she shared, “This is one of the hardest arrangements with all the key changes….It’s a magical song and you brought me back to a magical time,” said Massé. She continued, “The audience may be emotional geniuses but they may not be musically sophisticated. If you get it right and they enter their ‘magic time’…they will be fully engaged in the story you’re singing.”
 
JC Voices also performed two traditional songs that “wowed” the jazz singer, Chariots and The Road Home.  She exclaimed when they were finished, “Beautiful job of showing me your many colors! This was quite wonderful and I’m so happy to have heard you.”
 
Massé wrapped up the morning sharing some music industry tips like how to deal with competition and how to handle the negativity. “It’s true you will fight that. The culture thinks it’s all about competition and you can’t make a living; it’s a difficult profession. However if they want you, they want you. Beyoncé is not me and I’m not her so she’s not taking jobs away from me. Have allies in the music business; build a community of loyal friends.”
 
JCJC students said they took advantage of Massé’s direction as they performed their last concert, Java and Jive the week after their private lesson. Hattiesburg, sophomore music major, Harlan Mapp said he really appreciated the private lesson with Massé. More importantly, he said, “We owe Dr. Susan Smith for all of these opportunities to meet these professionals. We owe her our lives, education and job we get because of her efforts.”
 
For more information about the JCJC Fine Arts program, call the office at 601-477-4094 or email: susan.smith@jcjc.edu.

 

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