Dream Comes True for a Voice Major

Jack Canfield, Lawrence University Conservatory of Music voice major (’15), was one of 50 new grads whose dream recently came true. Jack is a national recipient of a 2015 Watson Fellowship. While other new grads are looking for jobs or trying to create them, Jack’s being paid $30,000 (plus the cost of health insurance) to spend his first year after graduation exploring the role of singing around the world.

“The plan is to visit communities that teach children to sing like we teach our children to talk,” he told MajoringInMusic.com. “Singing is a part of growing up and it provides an entirely separate expressive vocabulary to describe and engage with existence.” His interest in singing goes beyond his deep passion for and interest in music – he spent most of his five years at Lawrence as a voice and religious studies double major. To Jack, singing is a way to reveal the soul and precedes verbal expression.

From French Polynesia to Russia

French Polynesia, Republic of Congo, Zambia, Arctic Norway, Mongolia, and Russia are all on Jack’s itinerary. However, he realizes that “due to the nature of the (Watson) Fellowship, plans often change on a whim, and side trips to completely different countries are a regular occurrence!”

In just the first few weeks of his journey, Jack already found this to be true. The singing he’d expected to encounter and immerse himself in on the island of Tahiti was more elusive than anticipated. While he did find some “truly amazing” singing in a local Protestant church, and happened upon a singing/dancing competition and festival, there “wasn’t as much from the soul” as he hoped to find. He was already preparing to sail to Fiji aboard the boat of a couple he met while hanging out at the local marina, when we last caught up with him.

Evolving the Plan

Jack says his travel plans were based on “a combination of luck and hard work.” He says, “In some cases, I happened upon a particularly interesting recording and thought, ‘I have to go there. And in others, I was directed toward a particular singing tradition. Making visits a reality, however, has required a lot of cold-calling (or cold-emailing) and hoping that someone in Karasjok, Norway would take interest in my project and be willing to help. To this point, I have been very fortunate. However, I have also run into plenty of problems – namely with visas and travel logistics, etc.”

With a mission to know “what compels us to sing,” Jack is off on the adventure of a lifetime. He promises to check in with MajoringInMusic.com and provide our readers with observations and insights he discovers over the year. He’s already anticipating that he will find “great similarities and vast differences wherever I go.”

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