DARLINGTON MWENDABAI, Chipata
AS SOON as visiting renowned American vocalist Keri Chryst with her guitarist partner Jeff Hoffman took the stage in the Chipata College of Education school hall, the audience was hooked to their performance.
The one and half hour performance left a jazzy mark not only on the Chipata College of Education students’ choir who first performed a local song with Keri, but the audience also.
Keri, who performed on Wednesday, was in the city courtesy of the American Embassy.
“I love jazz and I want you to sing along with me when I say so,” she told the audience as she went through with her performance.
Born Keri Elena Chryst in Iowa City – the heart of America’s Midwest – the vocalist brought her best singing childhood memories to the audience.
She sang a number of pieces from her favourite jazz singers while explaining to her audience how jazz music played a key role in the liberation struggles during the American civil rights movement.
She is certainly no ordinary musician; she started her singing career at the Cleveland Orchestra Children’s Chorus and the Children’s Theatre Troupe Kids on Broadway also in Cleveland.
At age six, with her first piano lessons, Keri showed her skill at both local and state level in musical comedies, choir and orchestra.
Her passion for music saw her enter North-western university in 1992 for classical voice and French studies.
It was while at the University in France in 1997 that she graduated with a Bachelor of Music in Jazz studies which she completed in parallel with a Bachelor of Arts in French studies.
A year later, she added a Masters in jazz pedagogy, also from Northwestern Univerty. Her passion for music paid off when recently, the United States Embassy’s Africa Regional Services office in Paris engaged her to tour five African countries within six months in 2011 – 2012.
Together with Jeff, they toured Swaziland, the Comoros Islands, Djibouti, Togo and Cameroon singing while holding private concerts, workshops, conferences and master classes.
This explains why Chipata College of Education was chosen, and why she was able to sing in a local language alongside the school choir.