Jazz comes to Aggieland by: Amanda Crumbley

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The Lyceum Series at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University continued with a performance in Harrison Auditorium by jazz artist, Jesse Hamilton Jr.

The Philadelphia native delivered a variety of familiar tunes and genres to the audience in his show, “Come Croon With Me.”

As a singer of popular songs, Hamilton considers himself a crooner; he took the audience on a journey through various genres and familiar tunes.

There was something for everyone; soulful selections, rhythm and blues, gospel, rock and pop music with jazz elements intertwined through the whole performance.

The show opened with Hamilton singing a soulful song by Sam Cooke and was accompanied by sounds from N.C. A&T’s Jazz ensemble led by Mondre Moffett.

Instead of entering from the main stage, Hamilton walked down the auditorium aisle which immediately captured the audience’s attention.

Hamilton made his way to the front where he saw his family’s familiar faces. It did not take long for the tone of the show to be set. This was a time for engagement and enjoyment.

Hamilton explained that his show is a “participatory sport” for the audience and expected high energy from those who came. It did not take long for the audience to get involved. People began to get on their feet to sing, clap, and dance along as he performed.

Hamilton filled his show with memorable tunes and anecdotes to preface some of those selections. He told stories about his time as a musical theater arts performer and being chosen for the Festival of the Lion King musical in Hong Kong, China for almost six years.

Also, he talked about his lasting relationship with friends and growing up in a musical household where everyone played an instrument, sang or danced.

A crowd favorite seemed to be the disco portion of the show. After noting to the attendees that disco “reigned supreme” in his household growing up, Hamilton’s background singers returned to the stage each sporting afro wigs as they came out to The Trammps’ “Disco Inferno.”

The audience was on their feet by the next song, Earth Wind & Fire’s “Boogie Wonderland.” Two audience members were selected from their seats to go on stage and show off their dance moves.

While there were many upbeat songs, Hamilton’s variations also included slower tempo R&B selections and gospel.

Later in the show, Hamilton changed the pace by delivering messages of empowerment; reminding the audience that despite everyone’s difference in appearance, they should accept who they were made to be.

“You are beautiful in God’s eyes just the way you are,” Hamilton said.

As the show continued, Moffett introduced the ensemble for their music break. They played a classic Art Blakely selection, “Moanin’.”

The musicians had solo’s and the audience responded in claps and shouts as they praised the sounds the ensemble.

Hamilton closed his show with a tune popularized by Hugh Jackman from the musical, The Boy from Oz.

The song, “Once Before I go,” was hearty and positively received by the audience. Hamilton delivered his show with high energy and a great stage presence. Everyone appeared to be thoroughly engaged throughout the entire show. Hamilton’s final message during the show was, “give love, spread love.”

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