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UPDATED: 5/27/20 - 4:04 p.m.

Jeff Little Trio to Widen the Circle and Pay It Forward in March 30th Concert at Lee Street Theatre

March 18, 2019

Category: Academics, Events, Faculty, Music

co-jefflittle.pngWhen the Jeff Little Trio performs at Salisbury's Lee Street Theatre on Saturday, March 30th, Catawba College Popular Music Faculty and Artist-in-Resident Jeff Little will not only be playing, but he'll have an opportunity to also showcase the talents of five of the outstanding students currently enrolled in Catawba's Popular Music program.

With Little on the piano, son Luke Little on the mandolin, and longtime colleague and award-winning musician Steve Lewis on the acoustic guitar and the five-string banjo, it promises to be a great evening of music. During this concert, Little and his fellow musicians will be creating a "kind of community" through their music, focusing on a variety of musical genres.

Catawba students Rachel Bettendorf of Charlotte, N.C.; Dustin Chapman of Whiteville, N.C.; Jenna Greene of Concord, N.C.; Angel Paez of Charlotte, N.C.; and Dylan Smith of Trinity, N.C. will be joining the Jeff Little Trio in the second half of the show as the trio widens the performing circle to allow them to share the spotlight on stage. All five students participate in Catawba's Vernaculars groups and have individually achieved some success and recognition for their music as undergrads.

The Jeff Little Trio's performance and the inclusion of Catawba students on the Lee Street Theatre stage are part of a continuing and unique collaborative partnership between the Catawba College Theatre Arts Department and Lee Street Theatre, launched in fall 2017. 2019 marks the second year that the Catawba Music Department has been part of the collaborative offerings at Lee Street Theatre.

The concert will also be a way for Little to give back to the College and pay it forward for the next generation of performing artists like him. Proceeds from the concert will benefit the performing arts at Catawba, split between Theatre Arts and Music. That's a Jeff Little tradition, something he's done for all 14 of the years he's spent in higher education – at least one of his concert's each year serves as a fund-raiser for the program he's teaching in and becomes a way to help showcase his students.

Little has over 30 years' experience in the music industry as a critically acclaimed musician, artist manager, educator and administrator for college music industry programs. His performances include such venues as the Smithsonian Institution, the American Folk Festival, the National Council for the Traditional Arts, American Piano Master, and the PBS concert, "Doc Watson and Jeff Little." He has been featured many times on PBS as well as NPR and has performed internationally for the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs in such countries as Sri Lanka, Oman, Bahrain, Pakistan, France, and Tanzania. He has worked in many management and production areas of the music industry, including work with national artists like Keith Urban and John Michael Montgomery.

He is the recipient of the Distinguished Lecturer Award from The National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development, College of Education at The University of Texas. He is a SESAC affiliated songwriter and in 2014, he was inducted into the Blue Ridge Music Hall of Fame.

NPR described Little like this: "Jeff Little is a remarkable musician, steeped in the tradition of his native Blue Ridge, yet also a virtuosic and eclectic innovator."

co-jefflittle.png"Humble" and "gracious" are just a few of the adjectives his musical colleagues use to describe him. Most know him for his contagious smile, for his small town upbringing in the N.C. mountain town of Boone, and his enthusiasm for all things associated with the music industry.

Of Catawba's Music Business and Popular Music programs, Little says, "In addition to helping our students achieve their highest creative potential as a musician or artist, we also want to hopefully provide a pathway for employment in the industry. Our curriculum provides the broad-based industry knowledge including the business and technical aspects of the industry. This real world curriculum which is based on the current industry will give graduates a broader opportunity for employment which is the first step in networking about their music."

co-jefflittle3.pngA firm believer in educating the next generation for work in the music industry, Little has develop Entertainment and Music Technology curriculum and has served as faculty and administrator at several institutions prior to joining the Catawba faculty. His prior work includes four years at Northeast State in Tennessee, and 10 years at Guilford Technical Community College (GTCC). Those stints "got me excited about higher education for our industry," he recalls, and that ongoing excitement brought him to Catawba's Music Department.

For tickets to the March 30th performance of the Jeff Little Trio that begins at 7:30 p.m. at Lee Street Theatre, visit


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