Lee News

Students and Ensembles Receive DownBeat Music Awards


By Olivia Webb

Downbeats Award Received
Pictured here are Dr. (Valentino) Ruiz (left) and Robert Acevedo, Jr. (right) holding the awards. Also pictured

Several students from Lee University’s School of Music recently received awards for performances submitted to DownBeat’s 41st annual Student Music Awards.

The DownBeat Student Music Awards is considered one of the most prestigious collegiate competitions for jazz and audio engineering education. Students from higher education music programs from across the nation compete for these awards annually.

Two of Lee’s extracurricular ensembles, José Valentino & Shawn Perkinson’s jazz artist ensemble and José Valentino’s funk artist ensemble, placed second in the nation at the undergraduate level for outstanding performance in Small Jazz Combo and Blues/Pop/ Rock Group, respectively.

“As a soon-to-be graduate with a degree in music business, this award and experience gives me an advantage in the field right away,” said Nickolas Tomasello.

Award-winning students include Cameron Ball, Julian Daniels, Daniel Dennis, Timothy Ferguson, Josh Gardner, Caleb Hall, Robert Acevedo Jr., Hannah Price, Carlos Rising, Kirsten Tatum, Tomasello, Japheth Varlack, David Walrop, and Matt Zalusky.

“I have learned so much from this experience and grown tremendously in my abilities as an improviser and musician,” said Tatum. “Recording these accomplishments has been a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I am honored to have been a part of.”

Jazz Artist Ensemble Wins Downbeat Award
Jazz Artist Ensemble

Dr. José (Valentino) Ruiz is an assistant professor of music business and Shawn Perkinson is a commercial guitar professor at Lee.

Individually, Robert Acevedo Jr. placed first in Engineered Studio Recording and second in Engineered Live Recording at the undergraduate level.

“It’s an honor to have been able to participate in this competition, said Acevedo. “It’s a huge honor for me to have received those awards. I am humbled and very privileged to be considered one of the best musicians, part of one of the best bands, and audio engineer in the nation. God has truly blessed me.”

“These prestigious awards are a testament to what can be achieved when we (faculty and students) work together to create something that is not only impressive, but impactful and inspiring to the ears of music listeners,” said Ruiz. “Before every recording session, we prayed for God's inspiration to overflow our mind and hearts. In the end, we were all completely satisfied with the final product and did not worry if it would be recognized. The fact that DownBeat honored our work is an added bonus!”

For more information about Lee’s School of Music, call (423) 614-8240.

For more information, visit Downbeat.

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