Skip to main content Skip to navigation
CAS in the Media Arts and Sciences Media Headlines

Imagine Louis Armstrong playing your prom

In the spring of 1951, legendary jazz musician Louis Armstrong took the stage at Bohler Gymnasium to play for Junior Prom. Tickets cost $3.25 per couple, and the theme was “Bayou Blues.”

Horace Alexander-Young.

For Horace Alexander Young, WSU associate professor of music and an accomplished musician himself, Armstrong’s visit to Pullman serves as inspiration and an important piece of the school’s past.

“WSU was taking the lead on bringing people of color to campus over more than 100 years of history,” said Young, who earned his MA at WSU in 1983. “It’s really exciting to look back on that history.”

It’s fitting that Armstrong was the first of the three music icons to visit WSU. He’s considered one of the fathers of jazz, and helped take the style from a regional sound to an international phenomenon.

Find out more

WSU Insider

Acclaimed tenor Roland Hayes frequented Pullman

Nearly a century before Billie Eilish or Drake, Roland Hayes was one of the hottest tickets in music. And over the course of 33 years, the Pullman campus was a regular stop for the man world-renowned for his mellow tenor voice and his wide-ranging musical selections.

Hayes would return to Pullman four more times over the next 33 years, concluding with an October 16, 1960, concert and leaving an important mark on the University’s growth.

Horace Alexander-Young.

For example, WSU music Professor Horace Alexander Young speculates Hayes could have been an early artist-in-residence of sorts. It’s likely Hayes held seminars, workshops and even lessons with students during some or all of his visits. He taught music at Boston College and mentored many younger African American singers, including Marian Anderson, Leontyne Price and William Warfield.

“You couldn’t necessarily hire black faculty back then, so the next best thing was to bring in artists in residence,” Young said. “In some ways, WSU was on the front line in having a hands‑on relationship with issues of race, diversity and inclusion.”

Find out more

WSU Insider


Ask Dr. Universe: Why does it make noise when you snap your fingers?

Troy Bennefield.

When I got your question, I snapped my fingers a few times to try and find the exact source of the sound. After a few tries, I decided to ask my friend Troy Bennefield, the director of Athletic Bands at Washington State University.

As the middle finger hits the base of the palm, you actually send some vibrations out into the air. Vibrations are a big part of the reason we can hear all kinds of things—from snaps to claps to a variety of musical instruments.

When an object vibrates, it creates waves of energy that travel to a listener’s ears. The outer part of the ears collect those waves and the ear canals channel them inside of the ears. Meanwhile, the brain helps interpret the incoming information and allows you to put a name to the sound you hear.

Bennefield is really interested in how we can use snapping in making music. One famous scene with a lot of snapping comes from the musical “West Side Story.” Maybe you know a song or two that incorporates a lot of snapping, too. Think about how that sound can bring a certain emotion or feeling to the song.

Find out more

Ask Dr. Universe

Trevor Bond, Keri McCarthy assume leadership of Center for Arts and Humanities

Keri McCarthy.

Trevor Bond has been named director of Washington State University’s Center for Arts and Humanities, taking over from founding director Todd Butler, now dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. Bond is joined by the School of Music’s Keri McCarthy, who will serve as the center’s associate director.

“Together they envision a center that is increasingly visible and accessible to communities across the state and that deepens its support to not only faculty but also graduate and undergraduate students,” Butler said. “That vision is precisely what a land-grant center such as WSU’s is designed to pursue.”

“We are excited to build upon the solid foundation established by Dean Butler,” Bond said. “Our vision is to expand the impact of the center by supporting and highlighting the creative and performing arts, research, and public engagement of WSU faculty. We plan to increase opportunities for WSU students and alumni to engage with the center and are looking forward to collaborating with partners across campus, the community, and beyond.”

McCarthy is professor of oboe and music history at WSU and has cultivated an international reputation as a chamber musician, soloist, teacher, and clinician. Active as a performer and researcher throughout Southeast Asia, she is a co-founder of the Pan Pacific Ensemble, a chamber ensemble committed to performing and commissioning music of contemporary composers from Asia and the United States.

Find out more

WSU Insider

Center for Arts and Humanities announces fellowship and catalyst award recipients

The Center for Arts and Humanities (CAH) has selected nine faculty to receive the 2021 CAH Fellowships and Catalyst Award.

Faculty receiving the CAH Fellowship for 2021:

  • Avantika Bawa.

    AVANTICA BAWA, Department of Fine Arts

    Bawa will continue an ongoing series of installations reflecting the artist’s interest in responding to the built and natural environment through the language of drawing and construction.

  • Troy Bennefield.

    TROY BENNEFIELD, School of Music

    Bennefield will explore and publish information on the life and works of Dutch composer Julius Hijman, whose career was interrupted by the Nazi regime. Bennefield will produce the first-ever recordings of Hijman’s compositions.

  • Dennis Dehart.

    DENNIS DeHART, Department of Fine Arts

    DeHart will create a lens-based series of works focused on the Columbia River drainage basin and the Snake River. The exhibition will be in collaboration with the WSU Libraries’ Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections.

  • Martin King.

    MARTIN KING, School of Music

    King will commission a new horn, tuba and piano trio, record an album of music for this ensemble, and give performing tours of this music to expand and diversify the repertoire and promote this ensemble.

  • Laurie Mercier.

    LAURIE MERCIER, Department of History

    Mercier will conduct research for a book project about gendered occupational segregation in the U.S. and Canadian Wests from 1930-2020.

  • Melissa Nicolas.

    MELISSA NICOLAS, Department of English

    Nicolas will create an open-access digital archive of personal narratives about living through the COVID‑19 pandemic.

  • Jeffrey Sanders.

    JEFF SANDERS, Department of History

    Sanders will develop a book proposal for a cultural and environmental history of strontium 90.

Jacqueline Wilson.
  • JACQUELINE WILSON, School of Music

Wilson will create an album of classical works by Indigenous composers for solo bassoon utilizing a decolonized approach.

Faculty receiving the CAH Catalyst Award for 2021:

  • Ruth Gregory.

    RUTH GREGORY, Digital Technology and Culture Program

    Gregory will pursue multiple grant proposals to the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Spencer Foundation, and provide paid internships for community engaged humanities students.

Find out more

WSU Insider