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Deborah Chester - Special Events Intern

Having been raised in Brooklyn, New York, a place of diversity, I’ve been exposed to different cultures, cuisines, people and genres of music, including hip-hop, gospel, the blues, classical and most importantly jazz. I learned to play the violin at the Noel Pointer String Foundation in second grade and continued to play until my freshman year of high school. Noel Pointer’s music is phenomenal and his love for jazz and the instrument has been inspiring, which has sparked my interest for this genre. It was incredible this week when I got the opportunity to take a trip to the Jazz Blues Alley in Washington, D.C. with the Voice of America’s film, production and camera crew. They were very welcoming and instantly made me feel like I was part of the team. I learned a lot from them such as how the equipment works, the importance of communication and planning ahead, wisdom about the industry and most importantly, that teamwork makes the dream work! It was great to see everyone come together to complete the mission and I could tell that they were all passionate about their jobs. They showed me the importance of professionalism and that being passionate about your career is the only way that you will enjoy what you do.

The saxophonist, James Brandon Lewis had his own way of showcasing his passion. It was amazing to see a live performance by him and his band. His approach to jazz was sophisticated, refreshing and soulful. It was inspiring to see a young player keep the soul of the ages alive but with a modern twist, hence why Ebony Magazine named him one of the 7 Young Players to Watch in September 2013. I know that he will continue to thrive in the course of his career and pass along good vibes, joy, peace and soul to all those that listen to his music. The energy in the room was vigorous which made the experience even better. At times I would just close my eyes and get lost in the music by taking in the melodies of the instruments and the chatter amongst the people. As human beings we tend to get so caught up in life and in the routine of living, that we aren’t present in the moment. This was the perfect time for me to just relax and be present.

I was also able to connect, network and meet so many people within the company of Voice of America, performers and those who work for the Jazz Blues Alley. I’m looking forward to taking another trip with the camera crew again because this experience was one I’ll never forget.