Music fraternity gets the ‘Jones’

For the past three years, the Sigma Alpha Iota international music fraternity for women Inc. has produced an annual event that brings artists and couples together called “Love Jones.” Their 2004 showcase was no different.

On Feb. 13 and 14, in the Foster Tanner Music Building Recital Hall, students flocked to watch a plethora of artists, including musicians, poets, dancers and singers take center stage. The theme for the event was “Signs of Love,” which categorized performances into five different segments: fire, water, earth, wind and “when the signs are not enough.”

With Friday’s show about 10 tickets short of a capacity crowd and a sold-out show on Saturday, it was evident that the fraternity has developed a reputation for romantic productions, but like any successful undertaking, there was work involved.

For a month prior to the showcase, Jemia Allen, the program and publicity coordinator, said she worked overtime to bring the event to fruition.

“I had to check the sound system, decide on decorations, create the program and setup the rehearsals,” said Allen, 21, a senior English pre-law student from Hampton, Va. “And I had to arrange auditions.”

But perhaps the most tedious aspect of preparation was getting the word out.

“We passed out flyers, laminated signs and hung posters,” Allen said.

Jonessa Johnson, 20, a computer information science student, saw the posters and decided to try it. For her audition and the performance, Johnson sang a rendition of Roberta Flack’s “Killing Me Softly” for the “earth” sign segment of the show.

Allen said auditioning was a process of elimination.

“We had to budget what we wanted,” Allen said.

The auditions were held on the weekend of Jan. 30, and participants were informed of the decision the following day.

The next hurdle was constructing the program.

“We knew we needed some slow, mellow songs,” she said. “But we also needed the hype, fast crowd-pleasers. It was all about balance.”

Although Johnson said she has been singing since age three, it was her vocal debut on the Hill.

“I was a little nervous at first,” said the sophomore from Prentiss, Miss. “But I love to sing so once I started, I was fine.”

Johnson’s vocals were accompanied by a house band, which consisted of a trumpet, trombone, saxophone, piano, drums and bass guitar.

Christopher White, a senior choral music education student, auditioned and was selected to play drums. The 21-year-old from Los Angeles played the drums in his hometown church and said he wanted to participate in the “Love Jones” event.

“I’ve been to a couple (events) and always enjoyed the performances,” White said. “So I decided this year that I wanted to be in it.”

In retrospect, Allen said proper planning was essential to the performance.

“You must do things in advance.”