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Wisconsin musicians on their way to, and already achieving, stardom with artistic success

The St. Norbert College music program has had 100% employment placement for their graduating...
The St. Norbert College music program has had 100% employment placement for their graduating students who pursue music education helping to teach the next generation of musicians in the state.(WBAY Staff)
Published: Feb. 6, 2022 at 8:08 PM CST|Updated: Feb. 6, 2022 at 10:42 PM CST
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DE PERE, Wis. (WBAY) - The Grammy’s in Los Angeles were originally scheduled for January 31, 2022 but due to the omicron surge, they have been rescheduled to April 3. While not all musicians strive to hold their own golden gramophone, many in Wisconsin are being inspired by the success of those who’ve rocked before them. St. Norbert College has been known for churning out some of the best musicians in our region. Its alums go on to get graduate degrees in music and perform all over the country.

The St. Norbert music program has had 100% employment placement for their graduating students who pursue music education helping to teach the next generation of musicians in the state. It’s an impressive statistic they’ve kept up for over a decade.

“You think of New York or Los Angeles and you think of the possibility to be lost, small fish in a very big pond,” Phil Klickman, music department director at St. Norbert College, highlighted.

Last week at St. Norbert College the stage adaptation of Carrie: The Musical may have seemed scary for some, telling the tale of a teenager wanting to fit in. However, it sparked appreciation for the Wisconsin music scene.

“Honestly, it’s my passion,” a senior instrumental music performance major at St. Norbert College, Marquise Weatherall, emphasized. “I mean I do it for the love of it. I put all of my feelings into it. So, whenever I perform the audience sees that I am actually really into it.”

A love of teaching was also palpable backstage at Carrie when discussing new found musical talents.

“That moment right there, that’s why I’m a teacher,” a senior choral music education major at St. Norbert College, Tanner Witthuhn, said. “That’s why I want to go into education because of how much being timid at first but if you bring it out and realize you can do something like that. If you want to continue on that front that’s just the true joy to me to see the student’s joy.”

“It’s amazing how just the creative aspect of music blends itself well into other professions,” Sarah Parks, head of choirs and choral music education at St. Norbert College, shared. “Even if they might not be trained in an area, the fact that they’re very flexible and the fact that they think very creatively puts them on the top end for hiring.”

One young Wisconsin musician who said she’s lucky to have music be her full time job is Carlie Hanson out in Los Angeles. She is a pop star from the La Crosse area whose songs have been streamed over a hundred million times. Her debut album, Tough Boy, is being released on February 18. Considering her many musical accomplishments, Hanson recognized she can surprise people when talking about where she got her start.

“It is really funny especially like living here in L.A. whenever I’m in a writing session and they’re like ‘oh where are you from?’” Hanson recalled. “I tell them it’s Wisconsin, the first thing is cheese. It’s always like, ‘Oh the cheese state! Do you eat cheese curds?’”

Hanson was first introduced to rock by her Wisconsin family.

“Once I got control of the computer, I think I found like Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift and a lot of that influence,” Hanson remembered. “A lot of pop came into my brain and that’s where I kind of gravitated toward.”

Emphasizing how impactful musical influences and collaborators can be. Which is something the St. Norbert students have come to appreciate as well during their practice sessions for Carrie. While it’s a story about a teenage outcast, these students said they have found a core group of friends due to their harmonious efforts.

WATCH: St. Norbert fosters musical success

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