Two of the most descriptive pieces written about Torchsinger101 have appeared in the Lincoln Star Journal. The first appeared in December 2011 after one of the first Torch classes completed their concert. The second was the review of Jackie Allen’s appearance on Prairie Home Companion in October 2013.
Working with Jackie Allen was the most magical musical experience that I have ever had in my 55 years. I have always loved singing and listening to jazz, but Jackie opened up a whole new passion for jazz. She was able to change a group of individuals that wanted to be torch singers, into a group of "torch-singing performers". I would highly recommend the Torch Singing 101 to anyone who wants to bring out their inner-Ella Fitzgerald or Frank Sinatra hiding deep in their soul. I can't wait until I get to repeat the class!
Sue Hedrick - Kahoa Elementary
If you haven't taken a Torch Singer class, what are you waiting for?! It was a wonderful experience. Certainly one to be repeated. I really did have a wonderful time participating. I learned a lot and enjoyed the camaraderie of everyone there. And Jackie’s teaching, well it's superb of course!
Being a torch singer was a bucket list item, so Jackie’s class “Torch Singing 101” was, of course, irresistible. Jackie is a gifted teacher. People of all ages and experience take the class together and she makes each and everyone one feel safe and special. That is important. This singing thing is risky business even for the boldest burgeoning singer! The songs Jackie selected were absolutely perfect for me. It’s fun. Amaze yourself. Learn. Stretch. Grow. It’s memorable. It’s fun! (yeah, it bears repeating). Amaze family and friends! When the last note fades and you see their expressions, you’ll think “Yeah, I did it!!!”
Joining me for my SECOND Torch Singer 101 class was my husband, who had as much fun as I did singing our duet, "Dancing Cheek to Cheek!"
I read about Jackie's Torch Singer 101 class in late 2011 and finally took the class in early 2013. Then I took the class a second time just five months later. Jackie is a jazz vocals expert and an excellent teacher. I have watched her work with singers of all levels from novice to accomplished professional. She knows her stuff and knows how to teach for each individual. I've also met some great people who I now consider friends. And don't get me started on the Torch Singer 101 Concert, or "graduation" if you will. To have the opportunity to perform with world class musicians Hans Sturm and Tom Larson is something you don't want to miss. If you love to sing and have always dreamed of performing take this class. I plan to take it as often as I can!
Jackie, your Torch Singer class has impressed me in many ways. First, being able, with your help, to transpose music into a key that matched my range enabled me to prepare and perform the songs. Always before, the range thing just seldom matched. That's the KEY to making things work. Having Tom and Hans, who could accompany us from our transposed music, was absolutely awesome. How well a person gets to know and interact with the other members of the class surprised me. As I stated at our performance, knowing what I know now and loving Jazz like I do, taking your class would be first on my bucket list. In fact, it may be first on my bucket list today. I can do better, and have more fun. By the way, your group does a great 50th Anniversary party.
Torch Singing is like Halloween, a little scary but a fun and invigorating experience. At first I was horrified at the thought of singing in front of actual people, although I'd imagined myself doing it a million times, but after a few sessions with Jackie I had those vocal cords whipped into shape and my confidence soared. The classes were fun and the time flew by, trying out songs and transposing them into the correct key. She taught breathing and techniques, little tricks for a better performance. I met some wonderful people who were very supportive, and I even took the course a second time. Hans Sturm and Tom Larson "the band" will not fail you. If you forget the words or repeat the first verse they just follow, like you'd planned it that way. If you have time, I'd recommend a one-on-one with Jackie. She's a wealth of information. So grab a friend and start perusing those old songbooks, your inner diva is waiting.
Torch Singing, 101 has been one of my most pleasurable experiences recently. I have participated several times with Jackie Allen and the "Boys,” Hans and Tom. Singing jazz standards and the American Song Book is what I would do for the rest of my life if I could. All I need is the talented Jackie Allen to guide me! We are so fortunate to have her in Lincoln. Torch Singing, 101 has transformed our cultural community and certainly all of us who have participated.
Thank you, Jackie!
Your class gave me an opportunity to step out of my comfort zone and do something that I never thought I could do. Once I completed my performance I felt as though I had just skied down a mountain with perfect snow, even tho’ my performance was not perfect. It was a natural "high". Also a lot of fun and met some great people.
Torch Singer 101 was so much fun! It was a weekly escape - - to relax, learn, and simply spend time with wonderful people who also love to sing. Jackie is a hugely talented artist but she has created this home-based class which is warm and welcoming and not the least bit intimidating. It was an honor to study with her and sing with such talented musicians backing me up!
I must sincerely thank you for the profound difference that you have made in my musical life. I can guess that as an educator, many times you might not be aware of the impact that you have on others -- that perhaps your talent as an artist can overshadow your ability to communicate as a teacher.
Because of the physical limitations placed upon my body by arthritis, I probably will never golf again. With that realization came my re-dedication to singing. And you have opened a brand new world of performance to me. By personality type, I am strictly, "by the rules". I was an engineering physics major once and as a career was in the banking, insurance, and construction industries where "exact" was not close enough. What you did for me was to give me permission -- to bend the rules. I was not required to perform the music exactly as written, but that I could rearrange the music so that it fit my voice, style, and interpretation. I was allowed to shape the music and present the song with my message, not that of someone else -- what a revelation and what fun. Now when I approach a song, I tear it apart -- both music and lyrics. What is my message and how do I best convey that? I study the piece over and over -- and see how others have approached it.
At risk of going on to long, I will relate some meaningful moments that you helped create:
Of dedicating a song to the memory of Kurt Kuhl, fellow church member, to his widow and son during a church service. Kurt was a champion of my singing and always encouraged me to sing more. Many years ago, Kurt was a singer with the Lawrence Welk band and I believe that he saw something of himself in me. I sang, "You'll Never Walk Alone" for his dedication and by the time I had finished, much of the congregation was literally sobbing. I had a difficult time holding it together myself. Personally, what a feeling of power and fulfillment.
Of singing "Just A Closer Walk With Thee" in church. I started with the chorus and sang the first two verses in a traditional church-like manner. When I came to the verse, "When my time on earth is o'er", slowed the tempo way back to a hesitation-step, New Orleans funeral procession-like tempo. I came out of that verse with a vocal trombone-like glissando to finish the song with a chorus in dixieland swing tempo. Had'em rockin in the pews -- oh what fun!
And finally: to audition for the current show that Deloy and I are in, I sang "Danny Boy". I saw a number to cast members there with their eyes closed and tears streaming down their cheeks. So now I play John McCormack, Irish operatic tenor and sing, "Always (I'll Be Loving You)".
I do apologize for the considerable length of this piece, but I know that you will understand my feelings and the full impact that your musical involvement has had on my life. I know that I have fewer rather than more years left of singing as well as life itself and these experiences are all the more dear. Thanks again and happiness until our paths cross once again,