Meet three new, promising up-and-comers on the music scene.
As a seventh grader, Tanner Henley really envied the talents of his friends: It seemed the majority of them could sing or play a musical instrument. At the time, the only musical instrument in his family was his grandmother’s out-of-tune spinet piano, which she played with ease.
“I informed my grandmother of my interest in taking up piano, and she began to teach me the basics — posture, which keys are which, how to read sheet music,” Henley says. “Within a few months, I had already exceeded my grandmother in technical ability and was practically teaching myself out of the old course books she owned.”
One year later, Henley says his parents invested in a new piano, the same model as his grandmother’s, along with piano lessons with instructor Karen Larvick. He developed a daily practice routine, with which he honed technical skills by practicing scales and arpeggios and by playing works by Czerny and Clementi, pieces that are “good at helping you play fast, effortlessly, and sensitively all at the same time.”
This past April, Henley, 18, performed with the Jefferson City Symphony Orchestra, his prize for winning the 2018 Jefferson City Symphony Orchestra Piano Concerto Competition. Henley was the first Jefferson City resident and first high school student to win the competition, which was open to all Missouri piano students at the high school or college level. The honor tops a long list of accolades Henley has earned from competitions throughout the state.
“When I learned about composers like Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven in my primary education, I never thought I would be able to play their music,” Henley says. “For all I knew, you had to have a gift from God or some innate talent in order to achieve that level of playing. However, with some diligent practice and eagerness to develop musically, I’m now learning and performing the repertoire of these prolific composers constantly. I’ve performed throughout Missouri and even Arkansas, whether it’s for concerts, competitions, church services, weddings, or funerals. Being able to comfortably share my passion for piano with so many people has been my greatest musical achievement.”
Now a first-year student at University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg, Henley is studying music and international studies with an emphasis on Chinese language. Once he settles into college, he says he might find a job on campus or begin offering piano lessons to college students so he can share his passion for music with others.
“What I love about piano music is its ability to express what words sometimes fail to communicate,” Henley says. “Better yet, I have two hands to work with, which enables me to bring out all sorts of different harmonies and melodies simultaneously. It’s almost as if I have access to an entire orchestra on the keyboard.”
Watch him play here.
When Kate Beshuk lets her mind wander, she dreams of opening a coffee shop. But not just any coffee shop — a coffee shop where people would come for a great cup of coffee but also to shop for woodworking products. In her mind, the shop would also be a great venue for playing, and listening to, music from aspiring musicians.
“If I could have everything perfect: I love music, I love coffee, and I love things that are hands-on and labor intensive,” says Beshuk.
A graduate of Lighthouse Preparatory Academy, Beshuk, 19, has been spending her days living the things she truly loves. This past year, she fueled her love of coffee by working at Three Story Coffee before leaving Missouri for a summer on the border of Wyoming and Colorado, where she worked in guest services at the Laramie River Ranch. While guests vacationed at the dude ranch, Beshuk interacted with them in the most natural way she knows — through music.
While piano lessons in first grade gave her a basic knowledge of music, Beshuk is a completely self-taught guitar player. Inspired by the acoustic sounds of James Taylor, Paul Simon, and Lake Street Dive, Beshuk favors the simplicity of a voice and a guitar.
“I started playing in seventh grade when I picked up a guitar and started to learn it,” she says. “I looked up three chords online, then I started practicing those and picked up on more. With this instrument, there is always more to learn. There are always more ways to advance in it.”
Now that she’s back in Jefferson City, she’s teaching guitar lessons, working as a woodworking apprentice, and honing her skills as a performer and songwriter. In addition to writing original music, she says she likes the challenge of taking a pop song and transforming it to an acoustic sound.
“I’m trying to get at least 12 songs written, and then I have a studio session set up for recording,” Beshuk says. “I want to write one knockout song out of the 12 and record it. I haven’t mastered songwriting yet, but it’s something I’m practicing.”
Now that she’s back in town, Beshuk plans to return to the stage at some of her favorite local venues, The Mission and West Main Pizza among them. She’s also a frequent guest at 1837 Bar and other venues in Hermann.
While she’s chosen to make woodworking a big focus, Beshuk says music will always be a big part of her life.
“Part of me thinks I could pursue music by itself, but I haven’t gotten to that point to decide,” she says. “It’s not something I’m going to stop doing. I love playing guitar and being able to sing. It’s something I can share with other people and something I can have for myself.”
Watch her play here.
When Xavier Jordan first picked up the saxophone in fourth grade, he struggled to play. But what he lacked in skill, he made up in grit, determination, and will.
“I can remember hearing John Coltrane for the first time,” Jordan says. “I just knew I had to play the sax. The energy in his playing inspired me.”
Today, at 24 years old, Jordan continues to grow his musical skills by taking lessons and practicing whenever he can. Some days, he takes over a break room at the secretary of state’s office, where he works in records management, so he can practice learning a variety of new music to play during gigs around town.
“I’ve never been so inspired by anything like I am with music,” Jordan says. “Music gives me that special feeling, and I always try to work my hardest to someday inspire other children like the players before me have inspired me.”
So far, his 18-month-old daughter, Isabella, is one of his biggest fans. According to Jordan, she already aspires to be just like dad.
“She likes to walk around the house pretending she’s playing the saxophone by humming,” Jordan says. “It makes my day.”
A business student at Lincoln University, Jordan works at both the secretary of state’s office and Walmart throughout the school year while also performing regularly with the Lincoln Jazz Band and the Bobby Showers Band. He’s also working to start another jazz quartet while regularly performing at local hot spots The Mission, Gumbo Bottoms, and West Main Pizza.
His young career has already been decorated by highlights like a lesson with jazz great Branford Marsalis and playing with Jennifer Holliday, from “Dreamgirls,” and Dontae Winslow, who plays with Justin Timberlake’s band. He’s also become a viral sensation.
“The video that went viral was my cover of Khalid’s ‘Young Dumb & Broke,’” Jordan says. “It got 72.5 thousand views. My inspiration for this was from my middle school years. In middle school, I sometimes would write songs for our marching band to play, and I loved harmonies. I put harmonies all over it to add my own flavor.”
Over the past few months, Jordan says he’s been finding his own sound and working on original music, and within the next year, he expects to release a collection of those songs. The multi-talented Jordan has also dabbled in videography. He works with Jay Pelzer of Tag Production Studio to shoot commercials, and he was recently listed in the credits of “Darkness Reigns,” a horror film, as a camera operator assistant.
“I spend as much time as I can learning new things, even if it’s watching a tutorial on a 15-minute break,” Jordan says.
Watch him play here.