More than 20 students from the Texas Southern University Jazz Ensemble, University Choir and Journalism department are in Monterey, CA, this week to perform and gain valuable work experience as part of the 65th annual Monterey Jazz Festival (MJF). They are participating in a groundbreaking partnership, now in its fourth year, between TSU and MJF.
Unique to this year, Alaska Airlines has joined the partnership by providing complimentary air and ground transportation for the students to attend the three-day festival (Sept. 23-25).
“The partnership between TSU and the Monterey Jazz Festival has been invaluable for our students and faculty,” said Melinda Spaulding, TSU vice president for advancement and communications. “We are excited that Alaska Airlines recognizes the value of our TSU students and the transformative difference this partnership will make in their lives. They are providing a stage for their futures, whether they are performing with their voice, instrument, or journalistic creativity.”
While the Jazz Ensemble has performed previously at Monterey, this is the University Choir’s first time to attend and perform at the festival.
“I am so excited for the opportunity to have my students be exposed to a variety of artists that they’ve never been around,” said TSU choir professor Dr. Kiana Williams. “Beyond the performances, this is a wonderful opportunity for them to ask questions of the different artists and corporate entities that will be present, and it’s an opportunity for them to see something outside of Texas. For some of our students, that will be a first.”
The Jazz Ensemble and University Choir will not only perform at the festival, but they will conduct separate concerts at California State University – Monterey Bay’s World Theater, and at a private event at Pebble Beach. Meanwhile, the TSU journalism students, who work as reporters and producers for KTSU2, the University’s student-run radio station, will gain incredible work experience as they conduct multimedia storytelling about the festival and their experiences.
Earlier this year, TSU and MJF announced the continuation of a partnership that has broadened the reach of the MJF’s education programs to many more young people, while leveraging TSU’s commitment and legacy of jazz excellence. The partnership, which includes KTSU 90.9 FM, TSU’s Music Department and the School of Communication, also features a free two-day intensive music symposium Monterey Jazz @ TSU, each spring on TSU’s campus, which is designed for all greater Houston-based middle and high school, as well as college-aged music students.
“Monterey Jazz Festival is excited to build on the spirit of inclusiveness inherent in jazz as it continues this unique partnership with Texas Southern University,” said Colleen Bailey, MJF Executive Director. “TSU has a deep history of producing jazz artists, some of whom have played on the stages of our festival, an incredible jazz program, and they have the #1 student-run jazz radio station. We are thrilled to provide these students with a rich, engaging experience at the festival.”
The TSU/MJF partnership was launched at the 62nd Monterey Jazz Festival in 2019. Jazz and music business students from TSU traveled to Monterey to participate as production and marketing interns during the festival, providing them with real-world experience and opportunities to work alongside top professionals in the music industry at a world-class event.
The integration of high-quality education and outreach programs and year-round events to expand the legacy and popularity of jazz to a larger, more diverse audience is a critical component of MJF’s new Strategic Plan and Mission, Vision, and Values statements. By working in conjunction with TSU, MJF is achieving this critical goal of reaching younger audiences and helping to create new generations of jazz performers and fans.