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Student's invitation to sing at 9/11 memorial service marks the start of a busy semester
Friday, September 11, 2015

Student's invitation to sing at 9/11 memorial service marks the start of a busy semester

Vocal Performance major Nia Drummond, performing the national anthem at the Sept. 11 Memorial at Ground Zero in New York City. Photo courtesy of WGRZ-TV.

The start of a new school year is an eventful time for any college student, but Fredonia Vocal Performance major Nia Drummond has an exceptionally packed calendar.

In addition to settling in and starting classes, Ms. Drummond, a senior, will be performing in three major events in September, taking her from Fredonia to New York City to Cleveland and back.

It starts on Sept. 11, when Drummond performs the national anthem at New York City’s Sept. 11 memorial service. The event is sponsored by the City of New York and the 9/11 Museum.

Drummond said she was contacted by Kimberlee Wertz, the music coordinator for the Sept. 11 program, based on a referral from the Young People’s Chorus of New York City.

“I sang with this amazing chorus for five years of my youth,” Drummond explained.

Her performance is likely to receive national and international coverage. In past years, the anthem has been aired on television networks including CNN, C-SPAN and the BBC.

In addition, the audience will include many high-profile dignitaries. This year’s guest list includes Gov. Andrew Cuomo, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and former mayors Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg.

Then it’s on to Cleveland the very next day for a Sept. 12 concert performance with the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra. Drummond will be the featured vocalist in a program titled, “An Evening of Ella and Ellington.”

Finally, she takes the stage with the Cleveland ensemble back in Fredonia on Sept. 26 for another performance of “An Evening of Ella and Ellington.” This show, at 7:30 p.m. in King Concert Hall, is part of the DFT Communications Pops Series at Rockefeller Arts Center.

A native of Brooklyn, Drummond studies with Shinobu Takagi, an assistant visiting professor of Voice in the School of Music.

“Nia has grown in so many areas since she stepped on Fredonia’s campus three years ago,” Ms. Takagi said. “I would not count the ways because there are too many to describe here.”

Drummond made a very good initial impression on her professor.

“When I heard her sing in the Christmas pops concert in her freshman year, I instantly recognized the depth and the caliber of her gift as a jazz musician,” Takagi added. “There was no question about it. I had a sensation that I was listening to a professional jazz vocalist.”

Drummond has appeared as a solo performer at the Apollo Theater in New York City and the New World Center in Miami. She also appeared in world-renowned soprano Renee Fleming’s “American Voices,” which aired on PBS, singing gospel, jazz and classical music. She also performed at the reception and presentation of Ms. Fleming’s portrait, when it was added to the permanent collection of the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., in June 2014.

Drummond’s performances have earned positive reviews in both the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. She has been described as a “moving and electrifying performer.” In January 2015, she made her debut at Lincoln Center (Alice Tully Hall) in the role of “Edith” in a condensed version of the Gilbert and Sullivan opera, “Pirates of Penzance” with the University Glee Club of New York City.

An alumna of the National YoungArts Foundation, Drummond was one of three winners selected from 10,000 competitors for the National Foundation for the Advancement of the Arts “Jazz Voice” award in 2012. She was also the recipient of the 2012 Gordon Parks Centennial Scholarship Award presented by the Gordon Parks Foundation.

Takagi is “very proud” of Drummond and predicts that she will “keep growing and exploring into the world beyond Fredonia, serving the people and the world with her gift and everlasting dedication to her music.”

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