From a young age, senior Jada Asapokhai has been surrounded by all types of music, including jazz, hiphop, classical, and opera, as well as listening to songs from the likes of Michael Jackson, Rod Stewart, Biggie, Tupac, and DMX.
“Basically any artist my parents listened to, I listened to as well from a young age,” she recalled. This musical exposure sparked her interest in clarinet and singing, laying a foundation for a strong love of music.
Beginning in seventh grade, Jada was inspired by her older sister’s flute-playing and started taking private clarinet lessons, picking up the instrument quickly. “I played it in my school’s band when I got to fourth grade,” she said. “I was already ahead of the other students because I had had prior practices, so that was really cool, and I really enjoyed it.”
Jada noted Director of Choral Music Steven Mitchell as one teacher who has been essential to her journey with music. “With choir, Mr. Mitchell is amazing; he makes you feel like you’re Beyonce when you’re Selena Gomez,” she said with a laugh. “He’s very patient with you, and he doesn’t necessarily push you in the way where it’s him telling you, ‘you can do better,’ but he makes you see in yourself that you can do better. It’s crazy how he gets in your head like that.”
Along with Mr. Mitchell, Creative Arts Chair Todd Millen is credited with sustaining her love of music. Despite not always feeling motivated to continue her work in the band, Jada found that Mr. Millen still wanted her to succeed in her playing. “I find it really cool to see how much he supports his students,” she said. “I appreciated having someone like that lead the band because he’s super passionate about it, and he made me want to be more passionate about what I was doing.”
Within her first year at KO, Jada stopped playing clarinet in the band, instead choosing to play on her own time. “I wasn’t feeling the spark I used to feel, but I still continue to play at home,” she said. In reflecting on her exploration of music, Jada wishes she had joined vocal groups at KO sooner. “When it comes to music, for some reason I never pushed myself to pursue it in any way, even just by taking a class,” she said. “I took for granted my musical inclination, and now I’m realizing not everyone has that, so I might as well try to do something with it.”
In her junior year, Jada made the decision to join multiple musical groups at KO. After becoming a member of Outlook and successfully auditioning for Oxfordians, she realized that singing was a passion worth pursuing past high school.
“At this point, I’m trying to get more into my other instrument, which is my voice,” she said. “I think I’ve always really wanted to be able to make music that’s up to par with the artists I listen to. I’ve been trying to maybe not get better, but to find a voice that suits the message I want to bring forth.” In the future, Jada will perform in the winter musical and continue her involvement in KO vocal groups.