Multifaceted vocalist La Tanya Hall has been named Teacher of Jazz Voice at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, the first such position in the conservatory’s jazz studies department. Her appointment begins with the 2016-17 academic year.
Hall has collaborated with a long list of celebrated performers across a variety of genres, including Harry Belafonte, Diana Ross, Bobby McFerrin, Burt Bacharach, Quincy Jones, Aretha Franklin, and Patti LaBelle. She has appeared as a soloist with the American Composer’s Orchestra, the Colorado Symphony, and the St. Louis Symphony, among other ensembles. Her debut recording, It’s About Time, was released in 2008 to widespread acclaim.
Hall has taught at the New School and at Five Towns College in Long Island, N.Y. She has sung at festivals around the world and teaches master classes with the National YoungArts Foundation. She is a graduate of the University of Colorado Boulder, where she studied music and journalism.
This year, Hall accompanied Grammy-winner Rob Thomas on a tour of Australia and performed a series of shows with jazz singer Catherine Russell in New York City. In late April, she begins a U.S. tour with Steely Dan that extends throughout the summer.
“La Tanya Hall brings an extraordinary combination of talents and focus to the jazz division," says Professor of Singing Lorraine Manz. “She is a premier, versatile performer and a superb teacher of singing. She readily connects to the spirit of those individuals she mentors, and she will lead Oberlin jazz singers into a most promising future."
Oberlin Conservatory incorporated its first courses in jazz into the curriculum beginning in 1973. The Division of Jazz Studies, founded and guided for 37 years by Wendell Logan, was first offered as a major course of study in 1989. In 2010, Oberlin christened the Bertram and Judith Kohl Building, a state-of-the-art facility that serves as the home of the jazz program on campus.
The addition of jazz voice addresses a growing demand among prospective students and bolsters the experience of other conservatory students, according to Bobby Ferrazza, professor of jazz guitar and director of the jazz program.
“It strengthens our whole department,” Ferrazza says. “It diversifies our ensemble experiences, giving instrumentalists the opportunity to learn how to play with singers and learn directly how to accompany singers, which is a very important skill. It also presents new collaborative opportunities for our arrangers and composers.”
“I am so excited to be joining the faculty at Oberlin,” Hall says. “This school has such a long and storied history as a premier music education institution, and I am truly honored to be able to share some of the lessons and techniques that I have picked up in my journey through the business."
Hall counts the seven years she has devoted to teaching among the most rewarding experiences of her career. "I respect the process and consider it a gift to be able to teach this next generation the fundamentals of the jazz vocal legacy," she says. "This music is steeped in tradition, and I continue to be touched and amazed at the dedication of the younger generations to keep it alive.”
Learn more about jazz studies at oberlin.edu.