WMU Home > About WMU > WMU News

WMU News

Jazz students rack up multiple DownBeat awards

June 5, 2007

KALAMAZOO--Jazz studies students at Western Michigan University are singing and playing a familiar tune by again taking multiple awards from DownBeat magazine.

WMU students scored five times in the 30th Annual Student Music Awards. Results of the annual contest are in DownBeat's June issue, which is now on newsstands. In a repeat of last year's record, WMU is the only university in Michigan to win an award.

Ryan Andrews of Kalamazoo, a member of WMU's Lee Honors College, won two awards--one for Outstanding Performance on drums and a second for his performance as Blues/Pop/Rock Soloist. He is a drummer with the WMU's Gold Company Band, Brasil Project and Drum Choir.

Aubrey Johnson of Green Bay, Wis., also a Lee Honors College member was singled out for Jazz Vocalist Outstanding Performance. She is a vocalist with jazz vocal ensemble Gold Company and previously was with vocal ensemble GC II.

Logan Thomas of Portage, Mich., won in the Original Song, Outstanding Performance category for his performance of "The Legends Throne." He is a pianist with the Gold Company Band, the Brasil Project and the Jazz Octet and has been a member of the Jazz Orchestra.

The Giraud/Mattei Project, made up of Gerald Mattei of Rochester Hills, Mich., and Matthew Giraud of Ypsilanti, Mich., won for Blues/Pop/Rock, Outstanding Performance. Mattei has performed with the Lab Band and GC II. Giraud is vocalist with GC II.

For more than a dozen consecutive years, WMU students have won multiple awards in the national contest. WMU tied for second this year with the University of Miami. The Manhattan School of Music won the most awards.

"DownBeat's annual competition is regarded as one of the most important barometers of success in jazz education, while DownBeat magazine is considered the 'dean' of jazz publications," says Tom Knific, WMU professor of music and director of the WMU Jazz Studies program. "Our program has amassed well over 100 awards in just over a dozen years."

Knific says WMU's chief competitors continue to be the University of Miami, The New England Conservatory of Music and Manhattan School of Music. He noted that The Julliard School, one of the nation's more prominent programs, won a single award this year.

"Anyone familiar with these other programs knows that WMU is vastly out-numbered, out-staffed, out-funded and producing its program in a much smaller market demographically than these other schools," Knific says. "Yet our best equals the best anywhere."

The Jazz Studies Program at WMU is part of the School of Music. It has gained international recognition for its innovative approach to jazz education. The program attracts undergraduate and graduate students from throughout the United States and worldwide. Graduates of the program are among today's leaders in jazz and pop performance, Broadway, recording studio production, writing, arranging, singing, and music education.

Media contact: Mark Schwerin, (269) 387-8400, mark.schwerin@wmich.edu

WMU News
Office of University Relations
Western Michigan University
1903 W Michigan Ave
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5433 USA
(269) 387-8400