Marshall Musicians Join Celebrities, Jazz Greats for Illinois Arts Benefit

Huntington– Marshall University School of Music faculty members and former students performed last month for a music video of “Sweet Home Chicago” to benefit the Arts for Illinois Relief Fund, a recording that featured 100 artists, including stars such as Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Jim Belushi, Keegan-Michael Key and George Wendt, as well as jazz greats Ramsey Lewis and Kurt Elling.

Marshall Jazz Studies faculty members Martin Saunders and Jeff Wolfe, along with Marshall graduate Thomas Cavender and former student Colten Settle, were invited to participate in the recording by adjunct Marshall faculty member Jesse Nolan, who lived in Chicago for several years. And they did it without leaving their homes.

Nolan was called upon to arrange and direct the recording, which was made to raise money for a fund helping Chicago artists struggling as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. He turned to the talent at Marshall.

“No matter what the project, there’s always a little bit of Marshall University somewhere in there,” Nolan said. “For this one, I had the privilege of being joined by my colleagues and students.”

Saunders, director of jazz studies, and Wolfe, assistant professor of music, provided trumpet parts, while Cavender — a two-time Marshall graduate — played trombone and Settle performed the rhythm guitar track. Nolan played drums. They made audio and video recordings separately in their homes and then sent the files to Nolan to be compiled.

“Spring and summer are usually busy times for musicians, but with COVID, we just kept seeing gig after gig cancelled,” Wolfe said. “So to have an opportunity to make music on the same virtual stage as Ramsey Lewis and Kurt Elling was a true gift. Knowing that other artists would benefit from the work made it even more special.”

The arts play an important role in providing people with encouragement during these challenging times, Saunders said.

“Nearly everyone has used music, movies and other forms of art to help take their minds off the stress of the pandemic,” Saunders said. “What better way to say ‘thank you’ to people who have created that art than to support efforts such as this? Live music and theatre will be back, but until then, we need to do what we can to help artists in need.”

The video can be viewed on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V7-Nxgwa2iM&feature=youtu.be. Viewers are encouraged to donate to the Arts for Illinois Relief Fund at https://artsforillinois.org/sweethomechicago.

 

 

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