Chris Powell was born September 12, 1986 in Rochester, New York. From a young age, he ---
Yeah, not that kinda bio.
Hi! I'm Chris. I don't enjoy talking about myself in the third person, and I can't afford to hire someone to write about me, so you're going to get it straight from the horse's mouth!
I remember what it was like for me when I first started making music. I always loved to sing, and I would try to hash out themes from my favorite TV shows on my dad's keyboard. My older sisters both took instrument lessons, and around the age of 7, my parents set me up with a local piano teacher.
I hated it.
I couldn't stand being told what to practice, or how to place my fingers and arms, and I couldn't understand why things had to be so absolute; don't hold that note so long, don't use that finger to hit it, don't move on to this until you're done with that.
So, I quit
I tried a few more instruments at my parents' behest, with similar results, and by the time I got to high school I had convinced myself that music was (I remember telling my dad these exact words) "a fruitless endeavor." In my defense, this was also when N'Sync and Britney Spears were at the height of their popularity. Luckily for me, my folks insisted that I stay in choir.
My high school choir teachers were the first musicians I had encountered who really worked to connect their students to the music. Through them, I became invested in the pieces we were working on, and in my own abilities.
By the time my senior year rolled around, I was convinced I wanted to go to college for music, but every program I looked at seemed wrong for me. Most of them would have required me to spend just as much time in math and science classes as I would have in front of my instrument, and would have been out of my price range, even with scholarships.
Once again, serendipity was on my side, and the School for Music Vocations from Southwestern Community College came touring through Roosevelt, as they do every year or two. I saw a group of students who performed interesting music together and seemed very in touch with both contemporary and classical pieces. I heard their director, Jason Smith, talk about how the SFMV had you eating, drinking, and breathing music every day during the year, with minimal gen eds. So, I made up my mind to head to Creston to begin my journey towards a better understanding of the "big picture" that is music.
At the SFMV, I learned a lot of lifelong lessons. I learned how to collaborate with my peers to create something bigger than I could accomplish on my own. I learned the value of versatility, and the importance of being able to educate yourself. I learned how technology and music intertwine to keep filling our ears with new, unique sounds, and how composers bend and break the established rules of structure to give us unique chord combinations and soundcapes. I also learned a whole heck of a lot about jazz.
Jazz is a wonderful educational tool. It teaches the same basic sets of rules that classical theory does, but then shows you how to go about bending and breaking those rules to suit you as an artist. For this reason, I'm very glad to have studied it first, but at the end of my time in Creston, I was feeling the urge to get to know the technical side of classical music.
So, I took my journey up to Cedar Falls, where I began studying opera with Jeffrey Brich at the University of Northern Iowa. It was at UNI that my skills really started to take a more complete shape. I gained better control over my voice, trained my ear to analyze my surroundings, and acquired a deep understanding of the interconnectedness of melody, harmony, rhythm and form.
During my time in Cedar Falls, I also got to develop a different skillset - Stagecraft! I had some experience working backstage during high school, and got hired on at the Gallagher-Bluedorn PAC as a stagehand during my first semester. Over the next 4 years, I worked on several exciting productions touring through the Cedar Valley: Broadway shows, concerts, even the Dalai Lama! I got to see how everything worked, and how everything came together, all while working with one of the finest crews this side of the Mississippi.
Since graduating in 2012, I've been back in Des Moines - working, playing and teaching wherever anyone needs me. I'm so grateful for my path, and my great experiences thus far. Can't wait to keep making new ones!