WMU Jazz Studies alumni continue to be prominent in all fields of the music industry and are found on the world stage, on screen, in the recording studios, placing in national and international competitions, and teaching in collegiate and secondary school classrooms.

Recent Developments

  • Nayanna Holley, tours constantly with national acts, such as Queen Latifah, Sheryl Crow and many others. She is featured on Sergio Mendes’ new CD.
  • Johnaye Kendrick, won a fellowship at the Thelonious Monk Institute and a professorship at Cornish College in Seattle; She has been performing with Nicholas Payton.
  • Chris Beckstrom, won a professorship at Columbia College, Chicago.
  • Johnny Rodgers tours with Liza Minelli and performs at the fabled Oak Room in New York City.
  • The Davis Brothers, Xavier and Quincy, who record and tour constantly, world wide with many of the great names in jazz.
  • Logan Thomas performed with Stefon Harris and place second in the Montreux Jazz Piano Competition, Switzerland.
  • Christine Helfrich Guter, whose students at California State University Long Beach won 3 Down Beat awards this year.
  • Ryan Andrews, released Requiem, a CD of all original compositions.
  • Matt Warnock appointed professor at Western Illinois University and the Interlochen Arts Camp.
  • Matt Giraud was a finalist in the American Idol competition.
  • Keith Hall performs world wide with singer Curtis Stigers.
  • Michelle Mailhot, Katie Campbell and Aubrey Johnson are singing on Bobby McFerrin’s new CD VOCAbuLarieS.
  • Mark Jackson has been named director of Shades of Blue, the Grand Rapids Community College award winning vocal jazz ensemble.
  • Justin Avery has been performing with Meatloaf.

What people are saying about WMU Jazz Studies

"Western Michigan has a great jazz program.  I’ve been there various times over the years and have always found that the students are very talented, dedicated, and they interact well with each other. The faculty is terrific. Keith Hall’s drum choir, originated by Billy Hart years ago, is an inspiration. The faculty works hard and is generous with their knowledge. It’s a great learning environment.  There is a great sense of community and I love the vibe at Western Michigan."

-Tenor Saxophonist Donny McCaslin