MP3 Colby Beserra - POP: Folky Pop
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11 MP3 Songs
POP: Folky Pop, ROCK: Folk Rock
No straight line can be drawn to connect Colby's many careers as a singer, songwriter, musician, teacher, actor, director and administrator. A true generalist from the time he was in high school, Colby thrives on the many and diverse projects, people and organizations he has been involved with over the years.
After graduating from Northwestern University with a B.S. in Theater in 1996 - where he met his future wife Annie, a dancer, choreographer, teacher and administrator who actually has more jobs than Colby - Colby spent a year teaching 5th grade at the North Shore Country Day School. Hungry for more experience in bringing the arts to students, Colby enrolled in a one-year Americorps program, working with teachers in the Chicago Public Schools to integrate arts-based projects and programs into their daily classroom work.
This program led Colby to a 4-year tenure at the Northwestern Settlement House, a non-profit community center in Chicago's West Town neighborhood. Here, Colby was the Managing Director and ultimately the Director of the Vittum Theater, a 300-seat, state-of-the-art theater opened by the Settlement in 1998. Colby's time at the Vittum was spent developing programming for Chicago's students and teachers - performances, workshops and classes meant to expand students' exposure to the arts and give teachers more tools in connecting classroom studies to the larger world outside of school.
Colby contracted outside groups to perform at the Vittum, ran workshops for CPS teachers on arts integration, taught drama classes in various after school programs, worked with band and choir students to strengthen their skills in music, organized rentals, and participated in grant writing and fund raising for the theater.
But music called. In June of 2000, Colby was hired as one of the featured vocalists in the Ken Arlen Orchestra. Since then, Colby has become a Creative Consultant for Arlen Music, and is quickly becoming one of the most recognized performers and bandleaders on Chicago's social and corporate scene. With KAO, he performs over 100 gigs a year and has shared the stage with such luminaries as the Pointer Sisters, Patti LaBelle, Richard Marx, and performed at the first ever Commander-In-Chief Ball in Washington, D.C. as a part of the 2004 Presidential Inauguration. Colby has become a top choice band-leader for corporate functions and private parties at the House Of Blues in Chicago.
During this time Colby was a 2-time grant recipient from the American Composers Forum, and was able to work with students at the Lathrop Community Music Center and the Noble Street Charter School. At Lathrop, Colby was a Composer-In-Residence and helped a group of students to write, arrange and record their own songs. At Noble Street, Colby produced and directed an original theater show based on stories from the student's lives called "Telling Our Stories".
Colby turned over the reins of the Vittum to his good friend and colleague Tom Arvetis in May of 2002 and began writing the material that would ultimately make up his self-titled debut album. He also began recording with local singer-songwriter Jason Berger as a featured vocalist for his album "Lonely Mountain," and recorded an album of cover music with New York-based piano player (and old college friend) Dan Lipton titled "Jukebox Saloon."
In 2001, Colby also became involved as the Music Director for the Albany Park Theater Project, an award-winning, nationally recognized teen theater ensemble based in the Albany Park neighborhood of Chicago. Four years and six shows later, Colby has earned high marks for his collaboration with Co-Directors David Feiner and Laura Wiley in creating new inter-disciplinary work for the company. APTP shows stand as some of the most inspirational, and inspired, work of his career.
Colby also had the great pleasure of performing with his wife and close friends as a part of 2 shows by Striding Lion InterArts Workshop, a company with a dual focus on performance and education. Colby was the Music Director, one of 3 composers, and played the part of Oberon in Striding Lion's adaptation of Shakespeare's " Midsummer Night's Dream " (called " Ill Met By Moonlight ") at the Viaduct theater in 2004. He also served as Co-Music Director and performed in the Frank Zappa-inspired piece "Billy The Mountain and Other Wartime Stories " at the Elbo Room in March, June and July of 2005.
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