WMU music professor gets nod from DownBeat magazine

Contact: Mark Schwerin
Photo of WMU's Dr. Stephen .


KALAMAZOO--DownBeat magazine has recognized internationally known director, performer and Western Michigan University music professor Dr. Stephen Zegree as an outstanding educator by inducting him into its Jazz Education Hall of Fame.

Zegree's induction was announced in the magazine's June issue, which hit newsstands this month. Zegree, the WMU Bobby McFerrin Professor of Jazz and director of the award-winning jazz vocal ensemble Gold Company, was lauded in a feature article as a pianist and choral director who "seems to run in five directions at once."

The article listed just a few of his activities in recent months, including running a vocal jazz festival for 25 ensembles on the WMU campus, hosting a weeklong summer vocal camp, traveling around the world to such places as Mozambique and China, teaching private lessons at WMU and, of course, coaching his much-heralded and globe-trotting ensemble, Gold Company.

"I work hard; I put in a lot of hours, and I have a lot of energy," Zegree says in the article. "If I average four or five hours a night, I'm feeling pretty good. I always feel chronically under-slept, but I try not to act that way."

Zegree, a seasoned performer who maintains an active touring schedule, hadn't planned on becoming an educator. But that changed, and the article notes his work in raising WMU's visibility around the world. During his WMU career, Zegree has seen many students graduate and go on to become well-known performers and respected educators in their own right.

"The accolade is well deserved, if not overdue," says Tom Knific, director of the WMU Jazz Studies Program. "This is a remarkable achievement, and DownBeat's greatest honor. Steve's contribution to our program and the university is beyond category."