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The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

Banding together; CME hits all the right notes

(left to right) City College commercial music ensemble on the drums Jonathan Braithwaite, singer Ali Pereyda, bass Joshua Reid, and guitar Sergio Zazueta performs a concert in the quad at City College April 25. Photo by Sara Nevis | Staff Photographer | [email protected]

by Jocelynn Rubio | Staff Writer | [email protected]

Behind the heavy old doors of Room 112 in the Performing Arts Center, singer Ali Pereyda’s voice vibrates across the four walls as the nuts and bolts tremble in place. The rest of the band accompanies her with a smooth country sound in the background.

Each member plays their perspective instrument with care and expertise. They move in sync to the rhythm they produce as they prepare for the upcoming concert at City College Thursday, April 25, noon–1 p.m. in front of the fountain.

Kurt Shiflet, music professor and adviser for the Commercial Music Ensemble, casually sits in his chair, his eyes focused as he carefully watches his students playing. His head bops to the beat.

“The Commercial Music Ensemble is the group that performs out at the quad. It’s basically a pop group,” Shiflet says. “We play anything from blues to country to soul to rock, heavy metal, funk. Just all types of pop music.”

According to Shiflet, he auditions students with a passion for music at the beginning of each semester, bringing in musicians with different talents and backgrounds to form the group.

“People who are singers, come in. Guitarists, bass, drummers, horn players,” he says. “It depends on who comes in, every semester is a little different on who shows up.”

“It’s a not a class to learn your instrument. Some people will have strengths in different areas, but all of them play when they come in or they can sing,” Shiflet says. “It’s more of a ‘you learn how to put a band together’ in this class—learn music and perform.”

Ali Pereyda, a music major, has been a singer for 15 years and says that being part of the CME will open countless doors for her.

Pereyda says her consistent drive to be involved in contemporary music is what encouraged her to try out for the CME.

“The opportunity to sing for a band while we are all students is awesome,” says Pereyda. “You don’t find that much anywhere else.”

Her dedication to singing has steered her to audition for the Musicians Institute in Hollywood where she hopes to become part of the vocal performance department as a music major with a minor in independent artist.

“I’m mainly nervous because I‘ve got to move far,” Pereyda says with a chuckle. “I’ve been singing for a long time. With auditions, you always get that natural fear. That will always be there, but when I complete the audition, that’s one step closer to moving seven hours away and not having all my friends there.”

Although there may be students in the CME who have set out a musical path, others are still searching for that first step.

Singer Tara Stice during rehearsal with the SCC Commercial Music Ensemble (background) Guitarist Sergio Zazueta | Performing Arts Center- City College Campus | Sacramento, CA | Tuesday 04-23-2019 | Photo by Niko Panagopoulos | Staff Photographer | [email protected]

Tara Stice, a music business management major and singer for the CME, says she had Shiflet as a teacher last semester. He told her to check out one of the shows.

“I was surprised by the level of professionalism that people were bringing. I thought it’d be something I want to do, so I tried out this semester,” says Stice.

Despite her showerhead serving as her only audience throughout the years, Stice gained the confidence to audition for the CME. A boisterous laugh escapes her as she recalls her audition in January, describing herself as “really nervous and underprepared.”

Stice looks away for a moment as she retells the story of her first public performance.
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“It was a big step because I [had] never performed publicly,” Stice says.”Really great to get to know what it felt like to perform live, and have all these great musicians behind me all getting their parts down. It feels like a team being in band. It feels like one really good team. And I really like my teammates, so it makes it a lot easier,” she finishes with a laugh.

Keyboardist DJ Barbee during rehearsal with the SCC Commercial Music Ensemble | Performing Arts Center- City College Campus | Sacramento, CA | Tuesday 04-23-2019 | Photo by Niko Panagopoulos | Staff Photographer | [email protected]

Damond “DJ” Barbee, an undeclared major and keyboard player, says he has always been infatuated with music. Anything that was associated with the performing arts caught his eye.

“Performing is the most fun I could ever have; it’s kinda like flying. Like flying is the one thing I wish I could. Just to be able to go outside and just start flying,” Barbee says. “I feel like music is the closest thing to that feeling. I just love to play.”

Growing up in church, Barbee was accustomed to gospel music, R&B and smooth jazz, but when he walked through the threshold of PAC 112, a whole new world was introduced to him. The CME also gave Barbee the small nudge he needed to learn to play keys he wasn’t comfortable with before.

“When I came to CME, I started playing country, rock, blues,” he says. “It’s new to me, so I am able to add new genres to my repertoire.”

According to Shiflet, the CME offers a chance for students to become better at performing and “practice their craft,” while providing a controlled environment to learn music as a group.

“I have to tell him [Shiflet] all the time that I don’t play this stuff. So he has to forgive me when I throw gospel passing chords in the middle of the country songs,” Barbee laughs. “I’m still learning—you never really stop learning.”

The students also have the responsibility of learning their own parts for each song they perform.

“They take the parts off of the recording—meaning, for example, the guitarist has to learn the guitar parts off of the recording, the keyboard player has to learn keyboard parts off of the recording,” Shiflet says. “Then we come in, and the vocalist will know their part, and we learn the music.”

Shiflet motions his hand from side to side. “I direct the music, I will give them suggestions, maybe put a guitar solo.” Shiflet praises what he calls “a strong group.”

“They really professionals. These students that are in this class are good enough to go out and play in any clubs in the area,” he says. “Matter of fact, many of them do. The keyboard player, DJ, he performs regularly at churches. He’s extremely talented. I think he’s the most talented instrumentalist that I’ve ever had come through this program.

“I have some real talent in there,” Shiflet says.

While he goal of the CME is to give students an opportunity to play in a band, another focus is to learn how to work harmoniously together.

“He [Shiflet] emulates what it’s like to be in a band,” says Pereyda. “He will correct you when you’re wrong, but [he’s] very easy going and most musicians are. We’re jamming together—you want to create that comradery because musical chemistry is important. If one of us doesn’t like the other, you can feel that energy. So Kurt is the glue to all of that.”

Shiflet will audition students for the fall CME at the beginning of the semester. Vocalist Tara Stice has some advice for singers.

“If you want to audition, audition with a song you feel most comfortable with, and remember to have fun,” she says.

For more information about auditioning for the Commercial Music Ensemble in the fall, Shiflet can be reached at [email protected].

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