Sigma Alpha Iota

Pan Pipes Fall 2016

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PAN PIPES • FALL 2016 • 6 C D E H I J K N O P R S T U W X Y Z By Dr. Sherri Valentine Congratulations and well wishes are in order for Howard University's 2013 summa cum laude alumna, Kayla Waters, for the upcoming release of her debut piano CD, APOGEE. is elite artist, pianist, composer, and songwriter recently graced the cover of our Fall 2015 issue. At the time, Kayla, a member of the Delta Nu chapter, had been chosen to perform at the Triennial National Convention in St. Louis, Missouri. Aer graduating with a Bachelor of Music degree in Piano Performance, Kayla wasn't sure which direction she wanted to take as a perform- ing artist. Kayla soon found herself touring the world with several musical legends and record- ing artists. e distinctive list included musical giants such as Stevie Wonder, Patrice Rushen, Avery*Sunshine, and Maysa Leak. is past April, when Kayla received national recognition and success as a keyboardist on the BET television network's highly acclaimed "Black Girls Rock" awards show, Kayla performed for the legend- ary Gladys Knight, Marsha Ambrosius, Corinne Bailey Rae, and Imani Uzuri. She was also a fea- tured performing artist at the first Annual Fender Rhodes Piano Fest in Los Angeles, California last summer. Kayla Waters, a classically trained child who grew up in a jazz household, is no stranger to the music world. Her parents enrolled her in piano lessons at the age of six, and she continued to study and practice piano throughout high school. By the time she was 14, Kayla began playing the piano in church. At the time it was unheard of for a young girl to be the primary musician for a church choir and to play with such mastery. ere were two key players who impacted Kayla's career choice. As the daughters of interna- tional smooth jazz icon, Kim Waters, Kayla and her twin sister Kimberly got to attend many of her father's shows, concerts, and rehearsals. She had exclusive backstage access to observe the inner workings and processes of the industry. As she watched his career unfold, she fell in love with the whole lifestyle, and she soon became inspired to pursue a career as an artist and musician. Kayla has not only been a featured musician on several of her father's albums, but she has also performed with him at concerts and jazz festivals worldwide. Kayla was also heavily influenced by the teachings of her piano professor, Dr. Karen Walwyn, who shared critical insights about artistic creativity, pi- ano technique as it relates to the creative process, and focused practicing strategies. Kayla was able to apply these methodologies to her writing pro- cess, as well. Kayla also credits Howard University for preparing her for how to apply creativity to bodies of work that are not her original works. Collectively, these experiences nurtured her inner artistry, and they served as critical preparation for Kayla's evolution as a composer and songwriter. As she began to develop her ideas, Kayla reflected about how the music made her feel, how she wanted the music to make her audience feel, and the types of messages that she was destined to share with the world. Kayla readily utilized nature and life experiences as inspiration, and she found herself endeavoring to create imagery with her music that was similar to piano composers of the impressionist period. e compositions that arose from those reflective practices would ultimately evolve into her prolific premiere project, APO- GEE, that will be released this November. Kayla has a musical style that is unapolo- getically unique. It's an effervescent mixture of contemporary jazz, soul, indie, rhythm and blues, and inspirational music. APOGEE is an astro- nomical term that refers to the point in the orbit of a heavenly body which is at its highest distant point from the earth. It is in essence an apex or climactic moment in time and space. Kayla likens this to an awakening in one's self that can only be reached via communing with God, the Creator of the universe, and everything therein. Titles on the project reflect the destinations and points of interest on a journey through life. It starts with "Earth," proceeds through being "Sun Kissed," and meanders to "Heaven Is Here." Other tracks, "Freedom March" and "e Dream," remind us that we are not living in a perfect world; we must press on towards world freedom and live with purpose to fulfill our dreams. By the time we are re-energized by "Elevation Bop," it is time for us to experience "Spirit Awakening" and immerse ourselves in the newness of life. It is only then that we are equipped to "Look To Love" as our guide. Kayla encourages us to love even when it appears to be nonexistent or frozen on "Pluto." roughout Kayla Waters' APOGEE you can hear a consistent thread of triumphant rhythms, heart- felt melodies, chords, and harmonies that lovingly weave themselves among the hearts, minds, and souls of the listeners. Faith and the community are also foremost in Kayla's heart. Even though she grew up in the church, Kayla had never envisioned herself as a minister of music, directing praise and worship. However, when she graduated from college, sev- eral colleagues suggested that she consider that option. When she is not performing, Kayla is busy serving as the Director of Music and Worship at Mount Vernon Place United Methodist Church in downtown Washington, DC, Music Director of the Howard University Early Learning Program, and a member of the Washington, DC chapter of the Grammy Recording Academy. She takes great pride in being blessed to balance her ministry and spiritual life with her artistry, gis, and talents. Kayla advises anyone who is interested in pursuing a professional career as a recording art- ist to pursue it wholeheartedly and passionately. She shares, "Every day you've got to do something that pushes your art and career as an artist for- ward; whether it's developing a song, networking, setting up an interview, or researching and read- ing about the music business- you've got to stay immersed in this field daily to be successful. It is possible and it can be done!" Kayla Waters Releases Debut Album SAIS IN THE NEWS

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