New Vocal Jazz Program Adds Class Offerings
KENNESAW, Ga. (Sep 1, 2018) — Kristin Houston became a jazz ambassador last year. She started college with dreams of writing film scores. But everything changed during a Kennesaw State University trip to Italy with Steve Dancz, a music instructor.
“He introduced me to jazz,” she remembered. “I fell in love with the art.”
A Count Basie Orchestra performance featuring Grammy-award winning singer Carmen Bradford “solidified everything” in her pursuit of jazz. Houston will be among the first to graduate from KSU with a degree in Jazz Voice in 2019. She studies under Karla Harris, who helped launch the program last year and is offering a new vocal jazz combo class in fall 2018.
“This class will be an opportunity to work as a group to practice elements of singing jazz,” said Harris, a vocal jazz instructor. “Students will learn the importance of musical conversation.”
Harris has an extensive background as a jazz vocalist, working with some of the best musicians in the thriving jazz scenes of St. Louis, Missouri, and Portland, Oregon. In 2012, she began performing across the Southeast. She released an album in 2015 featuring songs by jazz legends Dave and Iola Brubeck.
Now, she shares her lessons in performance and music entrepreneurship, preparing students to carry on the legacy of jazz.
The significance is not lost on Houston.
“It’s important to American culture to keep this art form alive,” Houston said. “It’s one of the only art forms that is originally ours.”
Houston said Harris is a great example of the teacher she hopes to become herself. “She’s an amazing performer and educator; her instruction will help me get to that point one day, as well,” she said.
Houston takes solo vocal lessons and expects the new vocal jazz combo class to teach her to collaborate with other vocalists. While Houston is focused on preparing for graduation next spring, her instructor predicts a bright future.
“Kristin will do what she’s setting out to do,” Harris said. “Her time at KSU has obviously developed her skills and character.”
Harris lights up when she thinks about KSU’s jazz vocal students, “I look out and I just see possibilities. There’s so much potential. The spirit and the energy at KSU are very real.”