The MTSU Jazz Artist Series kicks off Thursday, Oct. 31, with an exciting Vocal Jazz Showcase.
MTSU School of Music faculty and vocalists Cedric Dent, Jim Ferguson and Ashley Kimbrough will headline the first concert of the series at 8 p.m. Oct. 31 in Hinton Hall of the Wright Music Building on the MTSU campus.
Tickets are $10 general admission and free for MTSU students, faculty and staff. Discounts for area music students and educators are also available. For reserve tickets call 615-898-2724 or email James.Simmons@mtsu.edu.
• Dent, a native of Detroit, Michigan, was a baritone vocalist, music arranger, and co-producer of the 10-time Grammy Award-winning vocal group, Take 6. After 25 years, Dent retired from full-time performing and has been an emeritus member of the group since 2011, rejoining the group in 2014 for their induction into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in Nashville.
Since 2004, Dent has also been a professor in MTSU’s School of Music where he directs the MTSU Singers, a student vocal jazz ensemble, and teaches a course he developed on the history of black gospel music, as well as undergraduate and graduate courses in music theory.
He continues to compose and arrange for various live and recording projects. The Nashville Symphony Orchestra commissioned a work from Dent for orchestra and chorus that premiered in 2016.
• Ferguson, an adjunct professor at MTSU, is a vocalist and bassist with two collaborative CD projects to his credit, the first titled “Not Just Another Pretty Bass” released by Challenge Records in 1999 and “Deep Summer Music” released by Challenge/A-Records in 2000.
Ferguson has been interviewed by Bob Edwards on NPR’s “Morning Edition” and has been the featured guest on “Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz.” He has also been included on NPR’s “Jazz Profiles with Nancy Wilson” in an episode on singing instrumentalists.
Ferguson says that he chooses songs with strong melodies and interesting lyrics, believing that lyrics associated with a song’s melody makes improvisation on that melody accessible to a wider audience.
• Kimbrough, an adjunct professor of jazz voice and assistant director of MTSU Singers, has been singing professionally since age 4 and continuing with the Washington Performing Arts Society’s Children of the Gospel, where she was afforded opportunities to perform at many venues, including the Kennedy Center Honors, the presidential inauguration ceremonies of Bill Clinton, and to sing “The Impossible Dream” for King Juan Carlos at the opening of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain.
While studying at Western Michigan University, Kimbrough was a member and assistant director for a time of Gold Company, one of the top collegiate vocal jazz groups in the nation. Gold Company has performed at many venues, including Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York. Kimbrough and the other five members of the Gold Company sextet received the Downbeat Award for “Best Graduate Vocal Jazz Performance” in 2012.
Other concerts in this year’s MTSU Jazz Artist Series in Hinton Hall include:
• Roger Humphries, jazz drummer, Thursday, Feb. 6, 7:30 p.m.
• Cord Martin, saxophonist, Friday, March 20, 7:30 p.m.
• Gary Smulyan, baritone saxophonist, Saturday, March 21, 7:30 p.m., as a part of the all-day MTSU Illinois Jacquet Jazz Festival
• Erin Bode, jazz vocalist, Tuesday, April 21, 8 p.m.
For more information about the MTSU Jazz Artist Series, this concert, or faculty performers, please visit www.mtsu.edu/music/jazzseries.php or call 615-898-2493.