Spring Vocal Jazz Concert

Two semesters of work were capped off Tuesday night in front of a crowd of about 50 students, parents and jazz fans, at the York Street Cafe in Newport, Kentucky for NKU’s Spring Vocal Jazz Concert.


The concert featured the Valhalla Voices, a group of nine NKU student singers who began working with Dr. Randy Penning, NKU director of choral studies, in the fall.


Penning said this group is particularly talented.


“We tackle some tough compositions,” Penning said.  “All the charts that we did tonight are very difficult and are written by professional arrangers and done by professional groups.”


“I don’t show any mercy to them.”


Molly Karrick stepped on stage and counted the song in with the band quickly following her lead to kick off the solo set of the concert.


Karrick, a junior studio arts major, said she wasn’t aware she was going to be performing the first song and that a majority of the music was given to the performers within the past two or three weeks.


“When I first started vocal jazz, getting really complex music like that terrified me,” Karrick said.  “With the group that we have everyone is proficient or distinguished in music and they really helped me. I think tonight went very well, the crowd was great.”


Following Karrick was Arah Samuels, a freshman music education major, who sang Diana Krall’s “The Look of Love”.


Samuels said she didn’t want to do a traditional jazz song for her solo.  After Penning recommended she listen to Krall, Samuels discovered that the singer was on a jazz compilation CD she had received.


“I didn’t realize it was her [Krall] until I went back and listened to it,” Samuels said.  “I really liked this song, so that’s the one I did.”


The solo set ended with Natalie Brady, who sang a fast-paced “Lady Be Good,” with a scat part transcribed from Ella Fitzgerald.


After Brady’s solo piece, the Valhalla Voices all gathered on the stage to perform the next half of the set together.


Tyler Smith was given the solo on “I Could Write A Book”.  A solo that he didn’t know he was singing until the day before the performance.


The full group set featured a variety of songs, with “South of the Border”’s samba and “At the End of the Day,” a song that Penning described as a “Simple, soothing piece.”


The group closed out the concert with two fast-paced and energetic songs that had a lot of crowd involvement.  


“The World Will Keep You Waiting,” had the crowd singing along which transformed into rhythmic clapping for “Sing! Sing! Sing!” which Samuels said was her favorite moment of the show.


“It’s a song that we all really ‘got’ and the ending is the best part,” Samuels said.  “Everyone got into it, I loved it.”