The Circle Voice

Accomplished vocalist to perform at Groton

Phil Stiles

Phil Stiles

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On Thursday, October 27th, Groton welcomes Nedelka Prescod and her band to the Circle as part of the Gammons Concert Series. Every year this series presents four to six free concerts for members of the greater Groton community that are held in Gammons Recital Hall. The first concert of this school year will be a riveting and spiritual performance bridging jazz, R&B, and gospel music.
Ms. Prescod is an accomplished vocalist and professor at Berklee School of Music, where she coaches ensemble groups. This isn’t her first visit to the circle, however. Last year, she was invited by Laurie Sales to work her magic on the ensemble of The Wiz. After this highly successful workshop, Ms. Lanier was encouraged to invite Ms. Prescod back for a performance. In her words, “It’s not always easy to take students off campus to hear concerts, so the Gammons series brings concerts to students. Each year a varied roster of artists is presented so that students can see professionals in action and learn about different styles of music”.
Ms. Prescod’s diversity in style was also what encouraged Laurie to invite her. “I was looking for a guest artist to bring in for the cast of The Wiz because the show is such an important moment in terms of mainstream black musical theatre, and there’s a style to the singing that comes from African American tradition… we didn’t have anyone on campus with that kind of background.” Laurie reached out to several mentors but was instantly attracted to Ms. Prescod. “She was the person I wanted because she wasn’t just talking about music. The way she talked about music felt spiritually connected, and that was very exciting.” The effects of her mentorship were transformative for the cast. “She somehow incorporated a sense of community and affection to our singing,” says Mac Galinson ’17. “We were having trouble connecting with the music, but she was able to breathe a new life into us,” explains Julien Alam ’19. Along with praises of her philosophy, Mac also appreciated the technical expertise Ms. Prescod provided, “She got me to sing higher than I ever had before or ever have since.”
Ms. Prescod is a unique talent. She has performed with artists including Alicia Keys, is a member of a pop/jazz ensemble and an a cappella quartet, and has released an independent recording project, Manifest (2008). While her technical skill amazes, it is her creative process that sets her apart from other artists of her kind. “Ultimately everything we need in terms of our music is about soul and about spirit. ‘Use that,’ I tell my students, ‘And make music with that,’” she says. Ms. Prescod describes her approach to guiding ensembles, saying, “Unison is a spiritual submission because you’re asking people to come together as one. It’s not just about music. it’s about humanity.” The cast of The Wiz and Laurie are all eagerly anticipating Ms. Prescod’s return to the Circle this fall. In Laurie’s words, “She’s not just going to be performing; she’s going to be testifying from her soul, and we’re going to get to experience that and share that with her. I think it’s going to be magical.”

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