Contemporary Jazz students at Lincoln College will soon have on-campus access to state-of-the-art recording and sound editing equipment, thanks to a recent grant from the Jerome Mirza Foundation.
The $20,000 grant will allow the college to install a complete recording and sound editing suite at the Johnston Center for the Arts. It’s all part of the vision of Contemporary Jazz Studies Lead Faculty Dr. Denise La Grassa to expand the opportunities and post-graduation employment options for students.
“We greatly appreciate the support and guidance of the Mirza Foundation,” Dr. David Gerlach, president of Lincoln College said. “This generous contribution will allow us to take the next step in developing our Contemporary Jazz Studies program.”
According to Gerlach, the mission of Lincoln College and its service to underserved populations, combined with the exciting things going on in the Contemporary Jazz Program, made this a natural for the Mirza Foundation.
The Jerome Mirza Foundation was established by Bloomington attorney Jerome Mirza (1937-2007). Mirza was an undergraduate theater major and never forgot those roots, supporting a variety of contemporary artists during his career. He was not only an outstanding attorney, a role model to other lawyers, an author and an outstanding contributor to legal education, he was also a dedicated patron of the arts.
Mirza was a nationally-known attorney who served as president of the Illinois State Bar Association and the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association. He was the author of numerous books, including “Illinois Tort Law and Practice” and “Winning Litigation the Mirza Way.” He founded the Jerome Mirza College of Advocacy at Illinois Wesleyan University and the University of Illinois.
“We want to build on our students’ abilities and interests, both honing their own talents as well as providing them with the background to explore pathways to productive and rewarding careers,” La Grassa said. “The market for performing artists is thin; but the market for music-related careers – recording engineers, audio editors, sound managers – is rich with possibility. Giving students these opportunities will provide them with more options so that they can pursue their love of music in today’s competitive environment.”
The project will outfit an available room with appropriate hardware and software, speakers, microphones and other equipment to constitute a functioning audio recording studio. Students will participate in the construction and operation of the studio and use it in the production of their own, and others’ musical creations.
The project is intended to also enable students to explore and prepare for ancillary professional opportunities in the music field, such as music producer, recording engineer, audio editor, sound technician and acoustic consultant. Over the past year, contemporary jazz students have been working with two nationally-known recording engineers, Erik Nelson of Bloomington-Normal based Eclipse Studios, and Rick Barnes of Chicago’s Rax Trax studio.
As part of the grant, Nelson, who is assisting the program as an adjunct instructor, will guide students through the process of building the recording studio and recording their own original music.
Nelson is a three-time Grammy nominated engineer/songwriter. He has worked with a wide array of jazz musicians and bands as well as popular hip-hop artists. He has also worked in a variety of genres with popular music groups including R&B vocal quartet Boyz II Men, and metal band Mudvayne, as well as with Disney. He is a multi-platinum record producer, songwriter, musician and engineer. He’s currently recording rap artist Montana of 300 and arranged for the artist to conduct a workshop with Lincoln College students last November.