School of Music well-represented among DownBeat award winners

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Photo of guitar body.

Music students again earned numerous DownBeat awards.

KALAMAZOO—For the second year in a row, music students from Western Michigan University pocketed six coveted awards in DownBeat magazine's annual student music competition, third most of any college or university worldwide.

"The awards were spread across a broad spectrum of categories, which speaks to our quality and depth as a program," says Tom Knific, WMU professor of music and director of the Jazz Studies Program. "I continue to marvel at the work of our students and colleagues."

No other Michigan university won an award. The University of North Texas and the University of Miami came in first and second, each with double-digit awards. One of Miami's awards was garnered by WMU alumnus Gene Knific, Knific's son.

The results are listed in DownBeat's June issue. This year's WMU honorees, along with the category of their award and their director or professor, are:

  • Gold Company Sextet, Vocal Jazz Group, Graduate College Winner, Duane Shields Davis, director
  • Bryan Blowers, of Portage, Mich., Blues/Pop/Rock Soloist (guitar), Undergraduate College Winner, Tom Knific, professor
  • Killian Williams, of Ann Arbor, Mich., Original Composition-Orchestrated Work, Undergraduate College Winner, "Blues for Charles," Scott Cowan, professor
  • Blake Morgan, of Livonia, Mich., Vocal Jazz Soloist, Undergraduate College Winner, Duane Shields Davis, director
  • Youyang Qu, of Beijing, China, Classical Soloist, Undergraduate College Winner, Renata Artman Knific, professor
  • Killian Williams, of Ann Arbor, Mich., Jazz Arrangement, Undergraduate College Winner, Outstanding Performance, "In Your Own Sweet Way," Scott Cowan, professor