Multimedia StoryTelling

By the students of MCJ300 at The University of Southern Mississippi

Iconic musician gives a jazz lesson at Southern Miss

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The spirit of New Orleans came alive on Tuesday night at the University of Southern Mississippi!

Famous jazz musician Doreen Ketchens played a concert on Feb. 5, 2013. This “Clarinet Queen” made the music come alive for her passion for the art. The evening consisted of two parts. The first part was an interactive workshop that gave the audience incite into the music Ketchens loves so much, and she second part was a concert of famous jazz tunes. The evening started off with an upbeat, spirited song that definitely shook the cobwebs off the audience members. I almost didn’t think this woman had the energy in her to play like she did. There were numerous times when it was obvious Ketchens was putting she had into the music she was playing.

After the stirring opening number, Ketchens went on to talk about the history and origins of jazz music. She spoke about its religious ties to slaves, how it became a musical melting pot in the port city of New Orleans. My favorite part of the evening was when Ketchens spoke about something most people who live outside of New Orleans: jazz funerals.

Now, everyone knows that funerals are a time to mourn the loss of a loved one. They are usually very sombre occasions, and the beginning of a jazz funeral is just that. The brass bands march with the family as they escort the casket from the church to the cemetery for the burial playing a dirge known as the First Line. Then the band allows the family to pass through to the cemetery while they continue to play in the streets. After the last member has passed, the band begins to play the Second Line, and things completely change.

Now this funeral isn’t about the loss of a loved one, but it instead celebrates the life this person led and wishes them a better after life. The Second Line is very upbeat and gets people dancing along. When most people think of New Orleans jazz, they are probably thinking of the song most often used for the Second Line.

After the workshop was over, the audience was allowed to take a small break before Doreen played her concert. I am so happy I stayed for the entire concert because it was the highlight of the entire event. Ketchens played many classic jazz favorites and made sure to include plenty of audience participation to keep everyone interested. I don’t see how anyone could have lost interest in the show anyway. This woman’s passion for her music was infectious, and by the end of the night everyone was clapping and snapping along with the music. For anyone who might be visiting the French Quarter on a weekend afternoon, try to find Doreen and her band out there. Once you hear this woman singing and playing her clarinet, there is no forgetting her.


Written by yolandacruz93

February 6, 2013 at 4:24 am

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