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David Baker & Angela Brown

David Baker

Angela Brown

Inspire. David Baker and Angela Brown, both alumni of the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, have used their talents to find great success, inspiring others through the gift of music.

David N. Baker

When jazz great David N. Baker, distinguished professor of music and chair of the jazz department at Indiana University, was honored as an Indiana Living Legend in 2001, the recognition was certainly well deserved. To his credit are more than 2,000 compositions, 70 books, 400 articles, 65 recordings, Pulitzer Prize and Grammy nominations, and numerous awards.

During the late ’40s, you could find Baker playing trombone with his group, the Dave Baker Quartet, on Indiana Avenue in Indianapolis, one of the hottest jazz scenes in the country at the time. Baker compares Indiana Avenue in the ’40s to Harlem: “It was the center of black culture, a place where music played six nights a week, all night long,” he says. By the end of the ’60s, Indianapolis had ceased to be a jazz mecca, and Baker began his current role as a cultural leader and jazz education advocate, establishing IU’s jazz studies department and learning a new instrument, the cello.

Baker received both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music education from IU and is a virtuoso performer on multiple instruments. He has taught and performed throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, Scandinavia, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan. Additionally, he is the musical and artistic director of the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra, past president of both the International Association of Jazz Educators and National Jazz Service Organization, and is server consultant for the music program for the Smithsonian Institution.

Angela Brown

When Angela Brown studied with internationally renowned soprano Virginia Zeani at the Jacobs School of Music at IU, Zeani recognized her student’s gift right away. But, as Brown recalled in an interview for the New York Times, Zeani pushed her to develop her voice, saying, “If you want to be the next Aretha Franklin, go. You need no more lessons. But if you want to be the best Verdian soprano the world has ever seen, you have to work.”

Brown followed Zeani’s advice and persevered through three unsuccessful Metropolitan Opera National Council auditions before she had her breakthrough. She sang her Metropolitan Opera debut in October 2004 in the title role of Aida, receiving critical acclaim from the New York Times and CBS News. She has continued to earn overwhelming critical acclaim and has been hailed as “the Aida of the moment in the whole opera world.”

She returned to the Metropolitan Opera as Aida in the fall of 2007 and as Amelia in Un Ballo in Maschera in 2008. In 2005, Brown received the IU African American Arts Institute’s inaugural Herman C. Hudson Alumni Award, which recognizes outstanding contributions to the arts by former members of the institute. As a graduate student at IU, she sang with the African American Choral Ensemble and served as vocal coach for the IU Soul Revue.

"Just don’t give up trying to do what you really want to do. Where there’s love and inspiration, I don’t think you can go wrong." —Ella Fitzgerald
Visit the IU display in Indianapolis at Indiana Black Expo July 8-18, 2010, booth 217.
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