This week we were fortunate enough to speak with Dee Daniels about her upcoming Vocal Jazz Workshop, which will occur on the Sheldon Jackson Campus from July 20-27. Read on to find out more about Daniels and her upcoming workshop.
“My goal is to go to the students, and lead the them into the realm of new information and experience with their voices,” Daniels says, “I don’t stand up and spout out information, but rather I assess how to communicate with them by creating an environment where they are comfortable and receptive.”
It may surprise some to know that Daniels did not start her musical career as a jazz musician. Rather, she began her musical journey singing gospel music in the church choir of her stepfather, who was Baptist minister in Oakland, California. Daniels continued to hone her skills in several different genres, including R&B and pop music. While singing and playing music, however, Daniels always heard more than the basic melody of the song. She later learned that the expansion of those melodies, which felt so natural to her, was called improvisation, a key element of jazz music.
Daniels is now one of the leading jazz musicians in the country. Over the years she has performed and recorded with jazz greats such as Lionel Hampton, Monty Alexander, and even singer Joe Williams, to name a few. In 2011 Daniels was named Artistic Director of the Frank DeMiero Jazz Festival, which brings in some of the top jazz musicians from around the country.
In addition, Daniels is a highly respected educator and clinician and loves the art of teaching.
“My favorite part [about teaching] is when I see the light bulb of understanding go off in students. When somebody gets it…it’s like they radiate. That is my greatest joy.”
Daniels is very excited about bringing her Vocal Jazz Workshop to the Sheldon Jackson Campus. She explains that the goal of her workshop is to present students with a variety of subjects, all of which will create a solid foundation that they can build upon as a jazz vocalist.
The topics will include improvisation,song interpretation, crossing vocal bridges seamlessly, performance techniques, and much more. Students will also learn and perform a song for a public concert accompanied by a professional trio.
Collaborating with Daniels on the workshop will be fellow musician Charenee Wade, who was the first runner-up for the 2010 Thelonius Monk International Vocal Competition.
To conclude our interview Daniels, who is known for her encouragement of aspiring musicians, shared this bit of advice for budding musicians:
“Never stop learning…be willing to step out of your comfort zone, to think and dream big. In the words of Martin Luther King Jr.: ‘Keep your eyes on the prize.’”