Indiana State University Newsroom

Grammy-Award-winning artist to perform at Indiana State

October 2, 2014

What do Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Aretha Franklin, Luther Vandross, Chaka Khan and Vanessa Williams have in common with Indiana State University? Jason Miles.

The Grammy-Award-winning artist and producer -- and Indiana State graduate -- will visit Terre Haute and perform in concert on Oct. 15.

In addition to working with some of the biggest names in music, Miles has racked up credits as a musician, composer, producer and sound engineer and has been called the "Quincy Jones of Contemporary Music" and a "true musical visionary."

Miles, however, is humble about his accomplishments. To him, it's all about the music ... and love.

"I am most proud that I've been able to make a living at this for 42 years and believe deep down that I have made a difference in the lives of other artists," Miles said. "I've been and done things that one can only dream about, and I'm still trying to get to the next space. I have my bucket list, and it still has plenty of room in it. I'm also proud that I've been with this great woman (the former Kathy Bennett) that I met at ISU for all these years, and we're still going strong."

Miles' visit to Indiana State will be a sort of homecoming for the New York native, who finished his coursework in December 1973.

"It is very ethereal. It really seems like just yesterday when on a September Sunday in 1969 I left my home in Brooklyn, N.Y., to begin my college education at ISU," he said. "I'm sure it will be a bit emotional coming back to a place that helped shape my future and my journey to where I'm at right now. So many of life's moments happened there."

For the concert, Miles will be joined by Indiana State music faculty and a guest from DePauw University at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 15, in the recital hall of the Landini Center for Fine and Performing Arts. The event is free and open to the public.

The set of songs will include those that have been important during Miles' career. "I will be playing with an ensemble and doing a few solo pieces as well," he said.

Miles is also looking forward to get-together with current-day Sycamores. While on campus, he will spend time with the School of Music, music business classes, jazz ensemble, jazz combos, individual composers and possibly the technology for musicians class, said Paul Bro, professor and director and of Indiana State's School of Music.

"I'll try and let the students know that life is about always learning and acquiring knowledge, and as Pavarotti said, ‘Forever a Student.' I'll share some wisdom that my mentors taught me and make it an enjoyable experience," Miles said. "I've been around all kinds of creative artists from jazz to hip hop to rock and country. We'll try to give them a real-world experience. After all, you're not going to hear stories that were passed down. You will hear it from the horse's mouth!"

Miles is used to looking out for the interests of future generations. In 2010, he helped pay tribute -- and preserve for posterity -- the late saxophone great Grover Washington Jr.'s concert at the Paramount Center for the Arts in Peekskill, N.Y., in 1997 on the album "Grover Live."

"It has been a long, interesting, difficult, fun, enlightening, amazing at times road to where I am now since I left Indiana State," Miles said. "Life moves by very fast. It is about the experiences you get that make it interesting. Do it while you can, because nobody is promised tomorrow. I say take in every minute the good and the bad."

The other Miles -- Miles Davis -- remains a key fixture in Jason Miles' career, and his 2005 album "Miles to Miles" pays homage to the legend. At the same time, Miles is always looking forward and continuing to collaborate with other artists.

"I came back to NYC from Indiana, because it was my goal to work with Miles Davis. It's a long story how I got there, but he was someone who life actually revolved around and his influence and vibe were so great, that it is hard for anybody who worked with him to say he wasn't one of the most important artists they or I have worked with," Miles said. "Luther Vandross, Ivan Lins, Suzy Bogguss were also very important to me. I'm now working with an amazing trumpet player named Ingrid Jensen, and we have a new band and new album called Kind of New. It's a very forward-thinking look into jazz."

With such a long tenure in the music business, Miles has witnessed significant changes -- the biggest being technology.

"When I started to get into making music with electric instruments, you really needed a certain skill set to make the music and make it believable. That's why a lot of artists and producers wanted to work with me -- I had a humanistic approach to the technology," he said.

"Then, as we started to see faster and faster computers, the way we made music changed along with it," he added. "Now, anybody can make a believable piece of music with the available technology, because it's so easy to access and use, which brings us to a big problem. Now everybody thinks they are a producer or artist, because now it's so easy to make the music and get it distributed."

While these advancements have opened doors for some, it's also created a lot of noise, Miles said.

"When the genie was let out of the bottle, it gave many with limited ability the same access as seasoned pros to the marketplace, and it has cluttered up the works so great music and artists are harder to discover and know about," he said. "It is a very slippery slope out there, and nobody really has come up with the answer. It's, in many ways, making life in this business more difficult."

Preparing for the trip back to Terre Haute provided Miles with an opportunity to reflect. So, what would he tell a younger Jason Miles, circa 1970?

"Don't cut class! I would say, though, be patient and see what really interests you and what your strong points are," he said. "I found my way during my third year when I really discovered how much I liked subjects like folklore, literature, creative writing. The professors I studied with really helped and were inspiring."


Photo: -- Jason Miles, Indiana State University graduate, will be visiting campus and performing a concert on Oct. 15.

Contact: Paul Bro, director and professor, Indiana State University School of Music, 812-237-2768 or

Writer: Libby Roerig, media relations assistant director, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3790 or