The allure of Western Michigan University’s wildly popular vocal jazz program and the welcoming spirit of fellow student musicians made Loren Battley’s transition to Western a highly enjoyable experience.
Battley attended a 2010 performance by WMU's internationally acclaimed vocal jazz ensemble Gold Company. The experience clinched her decision to transfer to WMU from the School for Music Vocations in Creston, Iowa.
Originally from Downey, Calif., the senior jazz voice major was surprised upon arriving in Kalamazoo by the warm greetings she received from students throughout the WMU School of Music and elsewhere in the Bronco community.
“In my previous educational experiences, instrumentalists never socialized with vocalists, and vice versa,” says Battley. “It’s nothing at all like that here. Everybody has been just completely welcoming and helpful.”
Battley is the first recipient of a vocal jazz endowed scholarship named to honor the accomplishments Diana Spradling, who recently retired from the WMU faculty. Spradling is the author of “Jazz Singing: Developing Artistry and Authenticity,” and her former WMU students include Broadway performers, studio singers, recording artists, members of national touring companies and several university-appointed jazz voice professors.
A highlight of Battley’s WMU experience has been performing with Gold Company. Through the rigor and excellence of the program, new doors have in turn opened for Battley. Recently, she was a featured performer during WMU’s annual Excellence in Diversity Awards that honor faculty, students and staff for their efforts to build a more inclusive, equitable and diverse University community.
Battley’s learning opportunities have not been limited to the realm of music. As a former WMU student ambassador, her smiling face has been seen around campus, leading tour groups of prospective Broncos.