Let's Hear It

Johnny Rodgers

Johnny Rodgers began his life as a performer in theatre - singing, writing songs on piano, and dancing - when he was a boy growing up in Florida, egged on by his music-loving grandmother.  But he credits Western Michigan's Gold Company, and director Steve Zegree, with some of the most critical training for his career. Today he is an acclaimed one-man-band performer about whom the Chicago Tribune wrote: "He plays piano better than most singers. He sings better than most pianists. And he writes songs better than most singer-pianists." (Reich, Howard. "Johnny Rodgers: A Singer-Pianist For All Seasons." Chicago Tribune. Nov 25, 2014).  

Rodgers joined Jazz Currents host Keith Hall in the studio at WMUK during a visit to his alma mater in December 2017. He plays his own songs, "Home To Mendocino," "The Best of You And Me," and "Mid-Day Moon," as well as the popular song, "What a Wonderful World."


C. Lieurance

When two musicians find themselves compatible with each other, distance matters less. Fiddler Ryan McKasson, who lives in Tacoma, WA and Boston-raised singer/guitarist Eric McDonald, of Montreal, Canada, are a top-notch duo that play traditional music of Scotland, Ireland and North America. They recently visited WMUK while touring with their new album, Harbour

Craig Freeman

Kjartan Code was raised in Kalamazoo, but for most of his twenties he has circled the globe, playing gypsy-style violin in street and festival settings. In a live performance at WMUK, with guitarist Bert Ebrite and percussionist Carolyn Koebel, Code talks to Craig Freeman about the demands of busking and the influence of the many cultures he's been immersed in on his music. 


Craig Freeman

Violinist Ahmed Tofiq has become, by neccessity, a bridge between Eastern and Western musical traditions, and a bridge between cultures as well. The co-founder of a youth orchestra for children of Syrian refugees, Orchestra Rouh, he speaks Arabic and excels in playing traditional melodies in the styles he learned growing up in Kurdistan. But Tofiq has embraced life in Kalamazoo since moving here to earn his master's degree in music at Western Michigan University in 2014. He knows that music is one way to form connections, and a feeling of home, quickly.

In the Takeda studio, with his violin, Ahmed Tofiq tells his story and plays a few of his favorite maqamat as he speaks with Craig Freeman. 


Craig Freeman

What does it take to be a professional classical musician while maintaining a private teaching studio of 40-50 students? Trumpeter Keith Geiman addresses that question with WMUK contributor Craig Freeman, performing some of his favorite pieces with his Britton-Geiman Duo partner, pianist Thom Britton. They play arrangements of Clark's Venus Waltz, Gershwin's Summertime, and the Thiele/Weiss tune, What A Wonderful World. In remembrance of influential Western Michigan University performer/educator  Stephen Jones, Geiman plays two verses of Amazing Grace.


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