Jeff Webb, professor at UPJ, led a series of concerts at the renovated State Theater

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Growing up in Pittsburgh surrounded by music, Jeff Webb has always known his way in life. He started taking piano lessons as a child and started singing in choirs when he was 10 years old. Now he plays the piano and sings solos in front of hundreds.

“I’m a lucky person in the sense that even at 13, 14 I knew what I wanted to do and I was lucky enough to meet people along the way who encouraged me,” he said. -he declares.

Webb said he had teachers in high school and college who encouraged him on his musical journey, so by the time he got to college he had already formulated that he wanted to be a choir director. .

Webb attended Allegheny College in Meadville, Pennsylvania, where he earned his Bachelor of Music degree. He then attended Binghamton University in New York for his master’s degree in choral conducting and graduated in 2001.

Webb discovered the job posting for an associate professor of music and director of choral activities at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown (UPJ). He got the job right out of school and has worked at the UPJ ever since.

According to his UPJ biography, Webb taught courses in music theory, western art music, critical listening, jazz, and popular music, as well as conducting the Pitt-Johnstown choral ensembles.

In addition to his college work, he served as artistic director of the Blair Concert Chorale in Altoona, Pennsylvania, from 2004 to 2013, as director of the Johnstown Symphony Chorus, as well as musical director and accompanist for performances such as ‘Godspell’, ‘Ain’t Misbehavin”, ‘Little Shop of Horrors’, ‘Sweeney Todd’, ‘My Way: A Tribute to Frank Sinatra’ and ‘Sweet Charity’.

Webb is active both as a guest conductor and vocal clinician, having guest-led choirs in Pennsylvania, New York and New Zealand. He also had his compositions, like “Oh! What a beautiful city ! happened all over the country.

Webb is also involved in many independent projects. He notably performs lead vocals and plays keyboards for the music group Jeff Webb and the Delectable Sound.

Eight years ago, the Boulevard Grill asked Webb to play a gig for the grand opening of its new speakeasy venue. Webb then assembled a small group of musicians to perform.

The show went well and the Boulevard Grill asked them to come back in three months. The group performed again and returned frequently. Now the band is used to playing for dances, outdoor festivals, weddings, fundraisers and all kinds of parties or concerts.

The band members were “all people I had come into contact with along the way. The band came together a bit by accident,” Webb said. He had encountered them all over years of traveling through musical circles.

On February 5, Webb performed with 17 local musicians and singers in the first of a series of classic vinyl concerts he created. The concert featured the entire two-disc album of Stevie Wonder’s “Songs in the Key of Life.” Webb said the series is dedicated to making acclaimed and influential albums live and is currently scheduled twice a year.

Webb once again found the performers he needed through the musical circles he had floated in for years. “We were going to play that particular album,” he said, “and knowing what was needed to play that album, I kind of asked people who I thought had the skills to play that album.” The core of the Classic Vinyl group also consists of Jeff Webb and Delectable Sound.

The original idea for the concert series came from an album by Donny Hathaway that Delectable Sound often plays. Webb thought not many people knew about the album, and “it turned into, ‘Well, what if we got a bunch of people together to play a live album that people actually know about. “”

Webb chose the Stevie Wonder album due to the widespread love for his music. Webb figured that even though the public didn’t know most of the songs on the album, they would know and love the hits and still be able to appreciate the album’s message.

“The thing that I haven’t really thought about to some degree,” Webb said, “but I’ve been getting feedback from people since the gig is that…this album is made up of a lot of elements Plus, every song on this album, in one way or another, is about love and… trying to bring people together.

Webb has since received numerous emails and Facebook messages from people who felt touched by the music’s message. “I hadn’t really thought of it as being such a timely thing,” he continued, “and yet it’s the thing that people really responded to.”

One of the singers who took part in the concert was Webb’s childhood friend, Bruce Harris.

The pair met around fifth or sixth grade when they both sang in the Pittsburgh Boys Choir, which was a touring band that focused on classical music.

Luckily, they attended the same college, the Sterrett Classical Academy, where they participated in choirs and concerts together. They both attended Schenley High School, where they went on to win numerous awards for their musical acts.

“We had a wonderful time singing and playing all over town and across the country as young men,” Harris said.

Having recently moved to the area, Harris reconnected with Webb, who told him about the concert series and asked for vocal help on the project.

“Mr. Webb worked extremely hard on this project, as he always does,” Harris said. “Jeff is a born musical leader and always has been; this performance was no different. Always knowledgeable and talented with a great vision.

“I would like to send a special note of thanks to him, for pulling me off the shelf, dusting off my vocal chords and, as a leader, pushing me to excel in what I love – singing and performing.”

The concert, which took place at the historic State Theater in Johnstown, sold out. Webb said people who couldn’t make it to the first show should join the Classic Vinyl Concert Series Facebook group so they can be kept up to date with all the happenings in the series.

On February 11, Webb uploaded a video to State Theater Media’s YouTube page that announced the series’ upcoming albums.

On November 5, the concert series will feature two Beatles albums: “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” and “Abbey Road”. Tickets went on sale Feb. 18 on the State Theater’s website, statetheaterofjohnstown.com.

Coming over the summer, Jeff Webb and The Delectable Sound will perform at Ohiopyle, Venue of Merging Arts in Johnstown, PA, Glades Pike Winery in Somerset, PA, and more, which are listed on the website of the group, delectablesound.com.

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