For the love of music: Black Notes traces roots to jazz, R&B


by Temesha Derby, Staff Reporter

INDIANOLA, Iowa — Black Notes is a jazz band started by students who have a passion for playing and performing music for live audiences.

The group also plays a wide variety, from R&B to blues.

Members said they’ve performed at wineries, weddings, conservations and at larger venues such as the Hot Air Balloon Gala.

Pianist Cortez Daniel said one of his favorite things about being involved is “being able to make music that isn’t typically focused on here and being able to perform with a relaxed group of people who are all really talented.”

“I’m personally not a classical performer, so I like the focus of jazz and blues,” vocalist LewElla Riker said. “[Our group] provides experience in the way I need it. Plus, it’s really fun.”

The group’s name came to them on a whim. While they were performing at a Gatsby-themed event, a man in a white suit came up to them and asked for the name of their group. Daniel had said his Snapchat name was Black Notes, and Riker said to the man that’s where the group’s name derives.

Black Notes members love being able to do what they love to do while also getting paid to perform.

Graham Brooks, a guitarist, likes making a different type of music available to students. He wants to show everyone that they all like making music and making people happy doing so.

Zach Howarth, a drummer, said playing music provides a relief and escape from the norm of classes.

One of the groups favorite memories happened during the Academic Gala in Hubbell Hall. A bat was flying around the room because it was attracted to the sound, Riker said. “While I was singing ‘I’m scared’ the bat got really close, and Lucy ended up catching it with a trash bag.”

Howarth aspires to be a college professor teaching jazz studies and composition.

Daniel hopes to also become a professor of music theory and chorale. “We can all do the band thing afterward, continue playing and maybe get some more recognition and an online fan base,” he laughed.

Black Notes wants to continue to interact and inspire more people and get more performance gigs.

They all would like more recognition and to talk to more people who are interested in gigs or performing.

“We’re all nice and friendly. Don’t hesitate to reach out,” Brooks said.

The next big performance will be at the Nature Conservatory in late June or July.

To learn more about Black Notes, visit their Facebook page or follow @blacknoteswhitekeys on Twitter.