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Gold Company salutes Motown

Jan. 16, 2009

KALAMAZOO--Gold Company, Western Michigan University's award-winning vocal jazz ensemble, will celebrate the hits that launched a musical revolution in two special tribute concerts featuring a special appearance by Kalamazoo's own Motown stars, the Velvelettes.

"Gold Company Celebrates Motown and Beyond" will begin at 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 7, in the University's Miller Auditorium.

Widely recognized as one of the most successful and prestigious collegiate vocal jazz groups in the world, Gold Company has appeared throughout the United States, Canada and Europe. Under the direction of Dr. Stephen Zegree, WMU professor of music, the high-energy ensemble combines musical elements from the traditional choral style with stylistic characteristics from the jazz vernacular, emphasizing improvisation and swing.

With Zegree on sabbatical this year, Gold Company will be directed by longtime friend and colleague Duane Davis. Davis, who teaches vocal jazz at Grand Rapids Community College, serves as the director of Gold Company II and directed Gold Company during one of Zegree's previous leaves.

Gold Company has appeared with guest artists Bobby McFerrin, Janis Siegel, Mark Murphy, Rosemary Clooney, Jon Hendricks, Don Shelton and Bonnie Herman of the Singers Unlimited. In addition, Gold Company has had the honor of performing arrangements specifically written for the group by such talented artists as Gene Puerling, Clare Fischer, Darmon Meader, Michele Weir, WMU alumna Jennifer Shelton and others. The ensemble has recorded several audio and video demos for Hal Leonard Publications and Shawnee Press, and has received more than 20 awards from Down Beat magazine.

First formed in the early 1960s on the WMU campus, the Velvelettes became part of the most innovative recording company in American Motown. Their talent rivaled the likes of fellow girl groups the Supremes, Shirelles, and Martha and the Vandellas. Their biggest hit, "Needle in a Haystack," reached No. 45 on the Billboard charts in mid-1964. The group has performed with the likes of Smokey Robinson and the Miracles and the Supremes.

"Gold Company Celebrates Motown and Beyond" featuring the Velvelettes is part of the Lake Michigan Mailers Spotlight Series and is sponsored by Coca-Cola. Tickets range from $12 to $24 and are available by calling (269) 387-2300 or (800) 228-9858, online at millerauditorium.com, or by visiting the Miller Auditorium Ticket Office or Epic Center Box Office in downtown Kalamazoo. Groups of 20 or more should call (269) 387-2312 for special discounts.

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WMU's link to Motown in spotlight for 50th anniversary

Media contact: Tracey Lawie (269) 387-2309, tracey.lawie@wmich.edu

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