IU has been home to some of the world’s most distinguished artists. The Jacobs School of Music, IU theater, art programs and Bloomington’s thriving local arts scene have churned out numerous prominent performers.
In celebration of two centuries of artistic excellence, here’s a look back at a few of IU’s most notable composers, instrumentalists, singers, actors and producers throughout the years.
Hoagy Carmichael's “Stardust,” one of the most-recorded American standards of the 20th century, was created during Carmichael's time at IU. Hoagy Carmichael, taking a stroll through the IU campus, supposedly ducked into a local hangout spot called The Book Nook — where Buffalouie’s now is — and composed the melodically challenging masterpiece. Carmichael earned his bachelor’s degree in 1925, and he completed his law degree at the university as well. He was active in the community as a musician. He would go on to compose a number of vastly popular pieces throughout his life, including “Georgia On My Mind” and “Heart and Soul.”
After completing a bachelor’s and master’s degree in music education by 1954, David Baker performed as a jazz trombonist in bands led by Stan Kenton and Maynard Ferguson, among others. He is known for mentoring famous jazz musicians Freddie Hubbard and Larry Ridley and authored numerous books and articles on jazz. Baker returned to IU as a faculty member for the Jacobs School of Music, where he established the school’s jazz studies program, in the 1960s.
Booker T. Jones
When Booker T. Jones started studying music composition at IU in the 1960s, he had already composed “Green Onions,” one of history’s most popular instrumental songs. Jones pledged to the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity and played trombone in the Marching Hundred. He also traveled to Memphis, Tennessee, on the weekends to perform with his band, the M.G.’s. Four Grammys later, Jones has gone down in history as a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer. He was awarded an honorary doctorate from IU in 2012.
Grammy-winning trumpeter Chris Botti studied at the Jacobs School of Music before he left school his senior year in 1984 to tour with Frank Sinatra and Buddy Rich. From there, he toured with an impressive list of musicians and as a solo artist, released a string of successful trumpet albums and gained a fanbase that includes Oprah Winfrey.
Sylvia McNair earned a master's in music from IU in 1983. Twenty-three years later, she returned to IU to join the music school faculty. During the time in between, McNair performed with major opera companies, recorded music and won two Grammys.
Joshua Bell, a world-renowned violin player and Bloomington native, has become a living legend in his hometown. After completing his violin studies in 1989, Bell won a number of awards, including one Grammy. He collaborated with the world’s most elite composers and became a famous performer. Bell joined the music school faculty in 2007.
Writer, director and producer Ryan Murphy studied journalism at IU in the 1980s and worked as a journalist at multiple publications before he began writing scripts in the '90s. Since then, Murphy has created TV shows such as “Glee,” “American Horror Story” and “The Politician."
Best known for starring in “MythBusters” opposite Adam Savage, Jamie Hyneman studied Russian language and linguistics student at IU and graduated in 1981. Hyneman worked behind the camera as a special effects technician for films and commercials before his partnership with Savage. In addition to “MythBusters,” the pair also made cameos on TV shows such as “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” and “The Simpsons.”
Although he had to drop out before finishing his degree in the 1960s, Jonathan Banks began as a student at IU. Banks started in theater by working backstage in the touring stage production of “Hair.” He would eventually receive recognition and seven Emmy nominations for his work in shows such as "WiseGuy," "Breaking Bad" and "Better Call Saul.” Banks returned to IU October 2019 to give a speech and was awarded the IU Bicentennial Medal.
Kevin Kline started out as a music student before transitioning to acting. Since graduating in 1970, Kline has won an Oscar and three Tony Awards and is known for his roles in “A Fish Called Wanda,” “Sophie’s Choice” and “The Pirates of Penzance.” In 2014, Kline received an honorary doctoral degree from IU.
Andreas Katsulas earned a master’s degree in theater in 1969 before finding success in movies and television. Katsulas began his career as a stage actor but became known for his roles in “Babylon 5,” “The Fugitive” and “Next of Kin.”
Local fans of "The Bachelor” franchise may not know that IU has a small role in its sister show's early history. The very first Bachelorette, Trista Sutter – then Trista Rehn – is an IU alumna who graduated in the '90s. She is still married to her “Bachelorette” love interest, Ryan Sutter, and appeared on other reality shows such as “Dancing with the Stars” and “Fear Factor.”
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