Strings, brass and keys

Richmond Jazz Society names four VCU students as 2013-14 Joseph J. Kennedy Jr. Jazz Scholars

Share this story

Four Virginia Commonwealth University jazz students were named 2013-14 Joseph J. Kennedy Jr. Jazz Scholars by the Richmond Jazz Society. Saxophone student Trey Sorrells, trumpet student Marc Roman, guitar student Roger Pouncey and piano student Macon Mann each will receive a scholarship worth up to $1,000.

A passion for jazz can stem from just about anywhere.

Sorrells credits his parents for his devotion to playing the saxophone.

“My parents are really big jazz listeners,” he said. “They play jazz records all the time. They really pushed me. My mom used to make me practice hours and hours and transcribe stuff all day when I was in the seventh grade. I finally got into it when I was in high school and felt like I could do something with it and really pushed myself.”

Similarly, Roman fell in love with the tumbling, soothing musical genre by following his older brother’s footsteps.

“I started when I was 9 because of my brother,” he said. “My brother’s always been into music since he was like 3 years old. I just kind of followed him. When he got into middle school he took on the trumpet and then he showed me how to play a scale on it and after that I just fell in love with it and just kept going. And when I hit the seventh grade I was about 12 years old when I got serious. I started practicing every day for hours a day and it was all because of my brother.”

Pouncey discovered the guitar by chance.

“I found a guitar in my cousin’s closet when I was 12 or so, so I just started playing," Pouncey said. "Started with rock music and from there went on to jazz music.”

As for what drew them to apply for the jazz scholarship, each of the students credited professor Antonio Garcia, director of jazz studies in the Department of Music, part of the VCU School of the Arts.

“Garcia was really pushing for someone to audition for the scholarship,” Sorrells said. “He was really great about encouraging students to participate.”

All of the scholars had to submit recorded performances in the style of blues, swing, ballad and one of their choosing, plus an essay and three letters of recommendation.

The Joseph J. Kennedy Jr. Jazz Music Scholarship Fund was created in 1998 to help music students pursue their educational ambitions.  Scholarships are awarded to students recommended by their music teachers and counselors. Students must have demonstrated a strong interest and ability in jazz music and have the desire to pursue this interest further at a Virginia college or university.

Kennedy, a former VCU faculty member, was a violinist and jazz mainstay in Richmond until his death in 2004.


Subscribe for free to the weekly VCU News email newsletter at and receive a selection of stories, videos, photos, news clips and event listings in your inbox every Thursday.