Greg Jasperse

Johnaye Kendrick performs Friday and Saturday, March 29 and 30, at 8 pm in WMU's Dalton Center Recital Hall at the Gold Company Vocal Jazz Festival. Friday's concert opens the event, which brings high school-age students to campus for performances and workshops during the day on Saturday.  Johnaye Kendrick will be joined by a quartet: Western professors Matthew Fries, piano; and Thomas Knific, bass; and student Madison George, drums. On Saturday, Kendrick will be the featured guest soloist with Gold Company.

In a conversation with Cara Lieurance and Gold Company director Greg Jasperse, Kendrick describes her artistic journey as a search for "a voice" that took time and experience to develop.  Her years at WMU, singing in Gold Company under Steve Zegree were formative, as was her further education at the Thelonius Monk Institute and at Loyola University. Today, she lives in Tacoma, WA, and recently released her second album, Flying, to rave reviews.

Gold Company

Every year, jazz professor Greg Jasperse challenges the two award-winning Western Michigan University vocal jazz groups, Gold Company and GCII, to produce their own showcase for the public. It involves brainstorming a theme, writing original arrangements, preparing choreography, outfits, lighting, sound, and publicizing the event.

In the studio with Cara Lieurance, Jasperse and two student producer/performers, Faith Quashie and Austin Malarchick, share some behind-the-scenes stories about what went into making Gold Company and GCII's 41st annual showcase, which will be held Feb 8, 8 pm and Feb 9 at 2 pm and 8 pm, in the Dalton Center Recital Hall.

Oleg Sklyanchuk, via Flickr all creative commons

Western Michigan University choirs will fill the upper and lower spaces of a large sanctuary with over 160 singers for its annual presentation of 'A Choral Christmas,' Saturday, Dec 1 at First Presbyterian Church in Kalamazoo. Kimberly Dunn Adams, Director of Choral Activities at WMU, and Greg Jasperse, director of Gold Company, join Cara Lieurance to talk about the special nature of the concert and how all the parts fit together.

Keith Hall

John Proulx (pronounced "Proo") grew up in Grand Rapids, MI, where he started playing tunes by ear at an early age. He studied music at Roosevelt University in Chicago, moved to Los Angeles, and built a career performing as a jazz pianist for artists like Melissa Manchester, Anita O'Day, and Nancy Wilson. He also recorded four solo albums, most recently 2018's Say It But some of his biggest successes came as a songwriter. In 2006, his song "These Golden Years" was recorded by Nancy Wilson on her album Turned To Blue, which went on to win the "Best Jazz Vocal Album" Grammy Award.

John Proulx shares some of these experiences with Keith Hall and talks about what brought him back to Michigan to earn his master's degree at Western Michigan University, where he directs GCII. Proulx performs five of his own songs in the studio, including "Push Hands Annie," Stuck in the Dream With Me," "Stained Glass," "Proulx's Blues," and "Before You Know It."

Peter Eldridge

Greg Jasperse, director of Western Michigan University's Gold Company, and Sarah Olson, a WMU junior in vocal performance, share their thoughts on the upcoming "Sneak Peek," a fall concert by Gold Company and GCII which prepares them for the fully student-produced show in February. Along with behind-the-scenes stories, they also share their experience working with friend and mentor jazz vocalist Peter Eldridge, who will return to Kalamazoo to take part in Friday's concert.