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Acclaimed Jazz, R&B Singer Tracy Hamlin to Visit Syracuse Feb. 25-26

Music legend will explore notions of 'Belonging' in Syracuse Symposium panel discussion, vocal master class

Feb 16, 2018 — Article by: Rob Enslin

Tracy Hamlin

Tracy Hamlin

Syracuse Symposium continues its yearlong look at “Belonging” with a mini-residency by acclaimed singer Tracy Hamlin. Her visit also is part of the University’s observance of Black History Month.

Hamlin will headline a panel discussion titled “Music, Identity and Belonging” on Monday, Feb. 26, from noon-1:30 p.m. in the Peter Graham Scholarly Commons, 114 Bird Library). The event is moderated by Kal Alston, interim executive director of the Community Folk Art Center (CFAC), professor of Cultural Foundations of Education in the School of Education and a faculty affiliate in women’s & gender studies in the College of Arts and Sciences (A&S). Rounding out the panel are Theo Cateforis, associate professor of music history and cultures in A&S, and Jeff Welcher in the College of Visual and Performing Arts' Setnor School of Music, where he teaches jazz and commercial music and directs the SU Vocal Jazz ensemble.

Also on Feb. 26, Hamlin will lead a vocal master class from 7-8:30 p.m. at CFAC (805 E. Genesee St., Syracuse). Space is limited, and registration is required. To register and request accessibility accommodations, contact

Both events are free and open to the public. For more information, call the Humanities Center in A&S at 315.443.7192, or visit

Hamlin’s visit to campus follows her performance with saxophonist Eric Darius on Sunday, Feb. 25, at 5 p.m. at the Marriott Syracuse Downtown (100 Onondaga St.). Their concert is part of CNY Jazz’s Black History Month Cabaret. For tickets and more information, contact Cathleen O'Brien Brown, general manager of CNY Jazz, at 315.479.5299 or

Additional support for Hamlin’s residency comes from A&S, CFAC and the Department of Art and Music Histories in A&S.

Tracy Hamlin singing into a microphone

From the video for "Standby," featured on Hamlin's 2015 album, "No Limits"

“We are honored to partner with CNY Jazz in presenting Tracy Hamlin: Her singular voice redefines every genre she performs,” says Vivian May, director of the Humanities Center and professor of women’s and gender studies in A&S. “As a singer, producer and creative entrepreneur, Tracy defies stereotypes about race and gender. Her visit will explore how music shapes and is shaped by individual and collective notions of belonging.”

As the title suggests, Hamlin’s noontime discussion will explore connections between music and identity, with special attention to how music promotes social and cultural understanding and how new technologies, such as digital streaming, help showcase diverse cultural histories.

Larry Luttinger ’79, G’81, founder and executive director of the CNY Jazz Arts Foundation, anticipates a lively interdisciplinary discussion. “Music communicates values and shapes identity, and as such, fosters bonds between people across cultural origins,” says Luttinger, also an award-winning percussionist and music educator. “Tracy will draw on personal experience, as a classically trained singer who has crossed over into other genres, to illustrate how music intersects with ideas about belonging, identity, mobility and social relations.”

May applauds Hamlin’s interest in reaching wider audiences while in Syracuse. At the master class, the Baltimore native hopes to work with singers of all ages and backgrounds. Interested participants should prepare a solo (preferably memorized) from the Great American Songbook or the pop/soul canon. Each singer also should bring two copies of his or her lead sheet or keyboard accompaniment, or, if applicable, a mobile phone audio file.

“This is an opportunity for singers to find their voice and connect with a major artist,” May adds. “Tracy will briefly work with each person, focusing on sound, technique and overall performance. Since this is a community event, spectators are welcome to attend.”
Tracy Hamlin backstage with Wynona Judd

Backstage with Wynonna Judd at the 2017 GRAMMYs on the Hill Awards in Washington, D.C.

As an internationally touring solo artist, Hamlin has shared the stage with some of the biggest names in soul, jazz, R&B and house music. They include Carlos Santana, Wynonna Judd, Chaka Khan, Esperanza Spalding, Jonathan Butler, Marcus Miller and DJ Spen.

Hamlin also has served as lead vocalist for the smooth jazz group Pieces of a Dream, and has maintained an ongoing partnership—as a songwriter, arranger and lead background vocalist—with disco queen Gloria Gaynor.

Hamlin has produced and released five solo albums on her label, DMH Records. Three of these albums—“No Limits” (2015), “This Is My Life” (2013) and “Better Days” (2008)—have gone to No. 1 on the U.K. Soul chart. One of her singles, “Drive Me Crazy” (2011), went to No. 1 four times in a four-month period on the Traxsource house music chart. Currently, she is working on her sixth solo album.

In addition to running a record label, Hamlin is a trustee of the Washington, D.C., chapter of The Recording Academy (internationally known for the GRAMMY Awards); the producer of an annual “fringe” event of the St. Lucia Jazz festival; and a music teacher at Baltimore’s Jemicy School, serving students with dyslexia and other language-based learning differences.

Classically trained, Hamlin studied at Peabody Preparatory and the Baltimore School for the Arts. She is proficient in German, French and Italian diction.

Organized and presented by the Humanities Center, Syracuse Symposium is a public humanities series that revolves around an annual theme. Programs include lectures, workshops, performances, exhibits, films and readings. Located in the Tolley Humanities Building, the Humanities Center serves the campus community by cultivating diverse forms of scholarship, sponsoring a broad range of programming and partnerships and addressing enduring questions and pressing social issues.
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Rob Enslin