The APU School of Music Artists Concert Series kicks off

On Friday night, Munson Chapel came alive when the APU Artist Concert Series kicked off its first event of the semester.

The Artist Concert Series is an 18-year-old program that brings together outside musical acts for an intimate show for APU students, staff and members of the community. Past performers have included acts such as the Clayton Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, Luther College Nordic Choir and Marshall Hawkins & Tom Hynes.

“The purpose is to bring artists that would not only inspire students, but our faculty as well,” said John Sutton, the Director of the Artist Concert Series. “It’s not students up front and we are evaluating them, it’s not faculty up front; it’s some other person that’s come to inspire and motivate us and lift us all up.”

Munson chapel was filled to capacity long before Morrison took the stage with a mixture of music students, faculty and admirers from the public. Sutton took the stage to start the night off in a word of prayer and to introduce Morrison’s band.

The audience cheered when the band, who goes by the name the BU-CREW, played for 10 minutes and showcased their talents. However, the audience roared even louder when Morrison finally took her spot on center stage.

The singer proceeded to belt out renditions of Peggy Lee’s “I Love Being Here With You” and Carol Bruce’s “You Don’t Know What Love Is.”

“Jazz musicians like Barbara tend to get better as they get older,” Sutton said. “So if your health is maintained, you actually are better in your sixties and seventies than your thirties and forties.”

Even a few minutes into the concert, it became clear that Morrison and her band had been playing together for a long time. An occasional quick glance between members was all that was needed to communicate.

Morrison then stopped the show to tell a story about her time with jazz legend Ray Charles. “We always played chess together,” Morrison said. “He always seemed to draw a larger crowd while playing chess in an airport than at his show.”

Morrison continued to perform renditions of songs by Duke Ellington, Percy Mayfield and even soul legend Al Green, all while having a constant smile and high energy level.

After a couple songs, Morrison asked the crowd if they had any questions. Director of APU Gospel Choir Lavone Barnett-Seetal asked if she could sing with Morrison. Morrison agreed, and the two then performed B.B. King’s “Rock Me Baby.”

The duo performed the tune as if they had practiced it for months, and when it ended they departed with a hug while the band transitioned to the next song. “I’m amazed that she allowed me to come on stage and sing with her,” Barnett-Seetal said. “I am just so thrilled.”

While she performed, Morrison constantly talked, joked and interacted with the crowd. At one point, she remarked that the crowd “looks so beautiful, which is saying something because I have cataracts.”

Finally, Morrison broke into “Don’t Know Why” by Norah Jones, and asked if any students wanted to perform the song with her. Junior music and worship major Astyn Turrentine and freshman commercial music major Noah Gamino were the only two to volunteer for an opportunity to sing with the legend.

“It was amazing and terrifying at the same time,” Gamino said. “It was literally insane; I just sang with a legend and I had such a good time,” added Turrentine.

The performance ended with the crowd chanting for an encore, and the band honoring the request only to have students run down to the front of the stage to dance with Morrison.

After the show, Morrison and the rest of the band met with eager students and faculty for pictures, autographs and hugs. She also explained what advice she would give students of APU’s School of Music.

“Make sure you treat everyone like you would want to be treated,” Morrison said. “You have to listen and not take everything so personal. When people have an opinion, most of the time they are trying to help you, so don’t take it personal. There is a lot of rejection in this business, so don’t add to it by telling yourself no.”