On April 20th, 2018, legendary jazz and R&B singer Joyce Cobb performed at the Mike Curb Institute Block Party. The party took place on a beautiful afternoon on campus in Fischer Gardens and was the final project of a Directed Inquiry class with the Curb Institute. Alexandra Howard ‘18 took the independent study class with Dr. Bass. Its purpose was to learn more about the impact Joyce Cobb, Howard’s voice teacher, has made on the music education scene in Memphis. She conducted interviews with Cobb, her students, and her colleagues and wrote a paper about her legacy (a condensed version of that paper is featured below in this newsletter). This block party concert was also Howard’s idea--a way to honor Cobb and her work for Memphis and Memphis music. At the concert, Cobb first took to the stage to sing "A Train," with Rhodes student musician Max Kaplan accompanying her on guitar. She then had Howard, along with the Joyce Cobb ensemble, join her on stage to sing. Our very own Dr. Bass, the director of the Curb Institute, also had the opportunity to perform with her. Cobb's performance, with her impressive scatting as well as her commentary between songs, was captivating. Cobb sang the works of Ella Fitzgerald and Charlie "Bird" Parker, to name a few. It was apparent through Cobb's stage presence and performance that she truly is a legend of her craft.
Text by Harlan Hutton and Alice Fugate