Last Friday April 22, jazz and classically-trained musician Candice Hoyes led a live masterclass on the art of performing and captivating an audience in Studzinski Recital Hall. Invited as an artist-in-residence, Hoyes spent her time on campus visiting classes and performing for the College community.
“Watching Candice in her element was a sight to see and brought me much enjoyment,” Associate Professor of Music Tracy McMullen said. “Especially to see my students mesmerized by her class was a sight to see.”
Hoyes’s performance was a mixture of classic jazz songs, like “My Shining Hour” by John Coltrane and “Come Sunday” by Duke Ellington, as well as some of her original works including “Zora’s Moon” and “Face against the Window.”
“I thrive on the energy of curiosity, community and introspection,” Hoyes said. “My own experience with being in university was filled with that, and the sense of creative liberation that I feel on college campuses. I love playing at universities because it highlights those experiences for me.”
McMullen originally invited Hoyes to campus to perform her residency in the spring of 2020, which was canceled due to the onset of the pandemic. McMullen and Hoyes both planned to wait until the residency was able to be in person to further its impact on students.
“As a professor of music and historian of jazz, I try to center Black women in my work because it’s an accurate representation that doesn’t find itself inside the history books,” McMullen said. “Events like this allow us to accurately tell this history and center the right voices.”
Hoyes was joined by Curtis Nowosad on the drums, Jordyn Davis on the bass and Jonathan Thomas on the piano. Danny Little ’22 also accompanied her on the saxophone.
Little was originally slated to perform with Hoyes in 2020.
“In the infamous spring of 2020, Professor Tracy McMullen reached out to me asking if I would want to play saxophone at a concert after spring break with Candice Hoyes and her group!” Little wrote in an email to the Orient. “I gladly said yes and had started listening to some of her songs in preparation. This concert didn’t end up happening, of course, but when Tracy reached out again a few weeks ago, I was very glad that they were still able to make the concert happen years later.”
Little expressed how exciting it was to participate in this event as a student.
“They are all incredibly talented musicians, and even hearing them warm up was impressive,” Little wrote. “I might have been intimidated if not for how friendly and open they all are; they made me feel very supported when I played with them.”
McMullen noted that in her ten years at the College, this was the first time she saw a student play in an assembly with a visiting artist. She hopes to see this continue in the future.
“You know it requires a lot of curiosity and courage to go on a stage and share your craft, which I will always help build up and influence in the right direction,” Hoyes added.
Hoyes also visited McMullen’s History of Jazz II course with Davis to interact with students and further their musical learning. Hoyes highlighted how events like this helped her explore music while she was an undergrad at Harvard, and wanted to give Bowdoin students the same opportunity.
“My goal is always to create a more fulsome picture of the stories that I want to tell. I carry that into any educational experience,” Hoyes said. “I wanted to invite students to ask those similar questions, so they can see a more fulsome picture of what they want to express, even if their major is not music. These questions can be helpful to anyone.”
The class was able to engage in conversation on the history of jazz and how its influence transformed America.
“We talked about some of the formative artists who have shaped jazz as a music and also as a transformative aspect of American culture. Jazz has really shaped the socio-political evolution of identity in this country and around the world. Black expression in many ways fueled this,” Hoyes said. “We really talked about what tools I’ve used to release my album Blue Lagoon Woman.”