My experiences at SSU set me on a path of great meaning and importance to my life. While a student at SSU I lost the ability to play an instrument due to an injury and discovered my passion for jazz composition. With the support of Dr. Leibinger, I learned how to write for jazz big band which is now the main ensemble I write for. Since graduating in 2014 I have dedicated much of my career as a musician and composer to advocating for social change and using music to start a conversation about the disease of violence. I developed a program that was facilitated in several after school programs called Music for Social Change that sought to teach youth how to use songwriting and composition as a means of discussing their experience and providing a positive outlet for self expression. The program was designed in two parts: the first being to explore music from around the world and how it impacts that region or country's culture; the second was to analyze songs that advocate for change, learn how to facilitate constructive dialogue and check individual bias, and the fundamentals of songwriting/composition. I completed my masters in jazz studies and composition from Washington State University in 2018 where I continued my social activism. I composed two separate third-stream suites for jazz big band entitled We the People and my masters thesis, The Humanity Project: A Jazz Suite. My thesis was a six movement suite for jazz big band and soloists that discussed the disease of violence worldwide from the war in Syria to the shootings at Pulse nightclub to the Black Lives Matter Movement. Both suites were featured at major conferences including ISJAC and the WSU GPSA Exposition. Since completing my masters I have been commissioned to compose several socially active pieces about the human experience. I have also started a new project called Real People in which each piece seeks to discuss violence within the United States. This album will hopefully release in 2021. Jazz and classical composition have been a way for me to peacefully protest and I think now, more than ever, it is important to have self-expression and meaningful, action-driven conversation.
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