That’s how long the last note of music hangs in the air in St. Paul’s Cathedral in London after the singing has stopped. And this past summer, those seven seconds held great meaning for junior Jasmin Power as she and her fellow Chamber Singers performed in the centuries-old building.
“I just started to cry, you know, silently cry there because I was just like, I cannot believe
I’m in a place like this, singing such a beautiful song as this with people that, you know, I truly, truly do care about and do hope to succeed,” says Power.
And it’s those moments of connection that have defined Power’s UT experience from the beginning.
During her senior year at Memphis Central High School, Power was able to take advantage of UT’s Flagship Scholarship, which covers tuition and mandatory fees for eligible students at 38 Tennessee high schools.
“Without the Flagship Scholarship, I would not be at UT, which is sad to think about,” says Power, a music business administration major. “It opened the opportunity for me to experience UT without feeling [financial] baggage.”
Even without the burden of paying for college weighing on her, Power was six hours from home and had a bit of culture shock. She knew she had to find people on campus who could understand her and had an upbringing similar to hers. She found that connection with Loneka Battiste, assistant professor of music education.
“Dr. Battiste believed in me more than I would possibly ever believe in myself at the time, you know, than anyone could ever could,” says Power.
For her part, Battiste says she immediately saw “a spark of light” in Power and knew what an asset she would be to the School of Music. And she recognized a little of herself in the student.
“The environment that she went to high school in was very different than UT, and I had a similar experience,” Battiste says. “Having someone who understands where you’re trying to go, who sees your potential and can help you navigate some potential roadblocks, is important for student success.”
Power says she’s found a family at UT, including Professor of Conducting Angela Batey, who directs the Chamber Singers and organized their 17-day trip to the United Kingdom this summer. The group sang in Edinburgh, Scotland’s, St. Mary’s Cathedral and in London’s famed Westminster Abbey and St. Paul’s Cathedral.
She says Batey reminds her of her Aunt Crystal—who, like Batey, corrects her and pushes her to reach further.
Batey, director of choral activities in the School of Music, has seen growth in Power’s confidence and musical acumen. “Jasmin’s experience on this trip exemplifies what we seek to accomplish with all our students through preparing and presenting concerts to audiences of all kinds and sizes—regionally, nationally and internationally—and from these encounters take away valuable experiences and friendships. There is nothing quite like international travel as a landmark life-changing experience for our students, one in which they learn much about themselves, others, and how they view the world.”
Power has also formed a connection with her fellow performers in the Chamber Singers and says she sees the beauty in such different people from different walks of life with different experiences coming together to make beautiful music.
“Singing is more than just you,” Power says. “I’m not just listening to myself; I’m listening to people around me. . . . You have to be connected to sing.”
Photos by Tom Owens