Event will raise money for emerging jazz vocalists
A smile streaks across English teacher Pamela Bryant's face as soon as singing and jazz are mentioned. For as long as she can remember, singing has been a part of her life, and thoughts of pursuing her private hobby were always present in the back of her mind. On Feb. 18, Bryant will give her first performance without classmates by her side. She will sing in the East Coast Jazz Festival at the Double Tree Hotel in Rockville from 7:45 p.m to 8:25 p.m.
Bryant's hobby in singing jazz began by chance. "I went to see a friend of mine perform. When I saw him perform, I thought, 'I can do that,' so I signed up for his workshop," she says. She joined the workshop during the summer of 2002 and has been singing with the Elliston Music Studio for Jazz Studies ever since. Bryant's favorite music genre is R&B, but she feels that she has a better "appreciation" for jazz. "Jazz is the only genre you can sing in the moment. It allows for interpretation," she explains. Bryant says she developed this understanding of jazz through the Elliston Music Studio.
Bryant describes the music studio as a jazz workshop. About four times a year, Bryant's class, consisting of about six to ten people, meet for eight sessions. The last session is an opportunity to showcase the vocal ability of classmates before a small audience. Bryant has gone through the process approximately ten times and is just getting comfortable. "I've only just started inviting people to hear me sing," she says. Despite her shyness, Bryant is working to increase both her talent and her audience. "My goal was to perform at the East Coast Jazz Festival," Bryant states and so she is close to achieving her ambition. As Feb. 18 approaches, though, she becomes increasingly anxious. "At my age, I know there are many things I can do well, and singing may not be one of them," she explains. "I still feel like I'm learning. I can open my mouth, and I don't know what will come out." Despite senses of vulnerability, Bryant is amazed how singing, particularly jazz, is in tune with her life style.
Along with pursuing her jazz hobby, Bryant is working to become an ordained Minister of Spiritual Consciousness. "The thing that keeps me singing is it incorporates a lot of spiritual principles that I live by," she says. "The piece about being in the moment. It continues to blow me away the fact that singing lined up so well." Bryant describes her position as a non-denominational minister as something that is "lifting the ideas about what people's lives can be." Her singing and her ministerial interests center upon boosting others.
Her performance in the jazz festival is also for a good cause. The show will support the Fish Middleton Jazz Scholarship Fund, an organization that helps support rising jazz artists in and around Washington, D.C. The fund offers scholarships, a mentoring program, jazz seminars and student internships. Bryant hopes friends, family and students will attend to watch her perform.
For more information about the organization and the show, click here. The East Coast Jazz Festival 2005 will be held from Feb. 16 to Feb. 21 at the Double Tree Hotel in Rockville.
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