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James Dekle
Name: James Dekle '11
Residence: West Lafayette, Indiana
Occupation: Artist-in-residence, Purdue University's Black Cultural Center

Music has always been a part of James Dekle’s life. It speaks to him in a language near and dear to his heart, in so many different ways.

“Sometimes I am attracted to the compositional elements of a piece, like the text, instrumentation, voicing, arrangement, etc.,” said the 2011 Winthrop University graduate. “I am also attracted to creating and performance aspects such as writing the music--lyrics and notes--or teaching parts to an ensemble and listening to the composition come to form, as well as bringing a piece of music on a page to life through performance. I could really write a dissertation on why music speaks to me.”

A native of Statesboro, Georgia, Dekle’s father exposed him to a wide variety of musical styles and genres, leaving no question that music would be his fated career path. After earning a degree in music education from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, he took a job as choral director for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.

“I became aware of the [Winthrop’s] Conservatory of Music from hearing some other music teachers speaking about the school,” he said. “After visiting in the fall of 2008, I knew Winthrop would be a great school for me.”

Dekle blossomed at Winthrop as he worked toward a Master of Music Education degree under the tutelage of faculty like Department of Music Dean Donald Rogers.

“I remember the wonderful class dialogues about the choral masterworks with Dr. Donald Rogers, the patience of Dr. Katherine Kinsey with my conducting of the Rutter Requiem, the really challenging but great vocal pedagogy class with Dr. Kristen Wunderlich, the musical narratives in theory class with Dr. Tomoko Deguchi, and the genius of Dr. Ian Pearson in Music History,” he recalled.

He also has fond memories of his fellow students and feels grateful he had the chance to work with them.

Dekle’s musical talents have taken him across the globe. His resume includes: member of the FAMU Marching 100 Band and Concert Choir, the latter of which took him to the Bahamas and Ethiopia; background vocalist for Kelly Price; soloist/musician for The Florida Singers, which took him to Spain; and Georgia Music Industry Association songwriting competition winner. Not to mention, his 2009 debut album “Purpose,” a positive music CD geared toward youth.

Perhaps his most exciting endeavor is the most recent one as artist-in-residence at Purdue University’s Black Cultural Center, where he works with a dynamic group of students, and researches and performs choral music of the African/Afro-American Diaspora—an experience he calls “insightful and rewarding.”

“I want people to feel the life of the music,” Dekle said, echoing what his life’s mission has been all about.

He frequently looks to something University of Michigan Director of Choral Activities Jerry Blackstone once told him for inspiration.

“He said, ‘Music is just notes on a page or in your head until it is brought to life through performance,’” Dekle said. “Therefore, it is my goal to bring music to life, as a creator, performer and teacher. The music itself will do the rest!”

Last updated 8/17/16

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