Renowned jazz vocalist mentors MSU students

‘These kids have been working so hard, and they sound so good’

EAST LANSING, Mich. – Jazz singer Vanessa Rubin made a stop in the Motor City. A seven-figure endowment made her visit possible for students at Michigan State University to learn a few tips and play along.

The sounds of her soothing music could be heard at MSU’s Community Music School as she played alongside jazz students to teach and inspire.

“I’ve been having such a good week,” said Rubin. “The kids have been working so hard, and they sound so good.”

Students took turns watching and playing. But all of it was made possible by a million dollar endowment provided by MSU’s Federal Credit Union given to the Jazz Studies Department in the school’s College of Music.

“What it does is provide resources to welcome four guest artists every year, said MSU Associate Director of Jazz Studies, Diego Rivera. “It’s almost like a one-day residency. We come in in the morning. We work with the students, rehearse with them, and we do side by side mentoring and workshops.”

It’s safe to say the students are taking it all in.

“You really get to see not only how to make music, but how to make music sound beautiful,” MSU student Jeremiah Flack. “Ms. Rubin today has really blessed us with that opportunity.”

Some are already talking about paying it forward to the next generation.

“Kids could look at me and see anything,” said MSU student Jordan Anderson. “‘I could just play this’ (plays piano keys in the video player above), and they could say, ‘what is that?’”

Perhaps, it’s most rewarding for the teacher herself.

“You’re excited by their journey, and you want to be a part of that journey,” Rubin said. “But, being a part of their journey, you are also bringing new things to your journey. They change the way that I might do things.”

This program is something that will continue to happen as this is already the 8th year it’s taken place.

About the Authors:

Victor Williams joined Local 4 News in October of 2019 after working for WOIO in Cleveland, OH, WLOX News in Biloxi, MS, and WBBJ in Jackson, TN. Victor developed a love for journalism after realizing he was a great speaker and writer at an early age.

Brandon Carr is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with WDIV Local 4 since November 2021. Brandon is the 2015 Solomon Kinloch Humanitarian award recipient for Community Service.