MBU hosts Jazz & Java event featuring recording artists Erin Bode, Christine Hitt

Missouri Baptist University is kicking off its first community Jazz & Java night on Thursday, April 14 in The Perk.

Local jazz performer Erin Bode will be a featured artist for the evening, singing with MBU’s jazz ensemble Allusion. Bode is MBU’s artist-in-residence and has been working with students in the University’s commercial voice program, which began in 2014.

“I think something that makes the commercial voice degree different from programs that might be offered at other schools is the hands-on, one-on-one information from some of the courses they’ll take,” Bode said.

Bode is well-known for her Americana style of music, a creative blend of jazz vocal and instrument arrangements. Her new album, “The Songbook Project,” is set to release this spring. She has been a regular for St. Louis spots such as Cyrano’s Cafe and can be seen this summer in the Whitaker Music Festival at Missouri Botanical Garden and the Kirkwood Station Plaza Summer Music Series.

The other guest artist featured for the evening is Christine Hitt. A former voice coach for both Bode and MBU adjunct voice instructor Sarah Lancaster 15 years ago, Hitt received a Master of Music degree from the University of Arizona before touring worldwide as a pianist with the United States Air Force Band. Her pop vocals have been featured in jingles for companies from John Deere to Monsanto and she served as a backup vocalist for artists like Darius Rucker and Marilyn McCoo. She currently teaches in Wisconsin.

“We are all so excited and thrilled to have the opportunity to learn from (Hitt) and hear her perform,” Lancaster said. “Allusion will be performing some of Ms. Hitt’s arrangements that evening after a full day of masterclasses with her.”

The event will be held on Thursday, April 14 in The Perk from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Admission is free, but donations to benefit MBU’s vocal jazz programs will be accepted.