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Joii Cooper
IU African American Arts Institute

George Vlahakis
IU Communications

Alain Barker
IU Jacobs School of Music

Last modified: Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Former IU Soul Revue director and IU Jacobs School of Music professor nominated for regional Emmys

May 8, 2012

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Tyron Cooper, former director of the IU Soul Revue and a Ph.D. candidate in ethnomusicology in the Indiana University College of Arts and Sciences, and Marietta Simpson, a voice professor at the IU Jacobs School of Music, have been nominated for regional Emmy Awards.

The nominations are for their significant roles in "Musical Threads: Expressions of a People" and "Open Door: China in Indiana," two television programs produced by WFYI, the PBS affiliate in Indianapolis.

In "Musical Threads," Cooper and Simpson perform pre-existing and original songs representing African-American music styles spanning from the 18th century to the present. American Public Television, a national distributor of public programming, has also picked up "Musical Threads" for airing on more than half of PBS stations nationwide. Cooper and Simpson are nominated for "Musical Threads" in the category of Art/Entertainment as Talent/Composer.

"I was asked to collaborate on this project by acclaimed guitarist and Jacobs alumnus Tyron Cooper," Simpson said. "Bob Williams and the production staff of WFYI fully embraced our artistic vision, and what followed was nothing short of a dream.

"When we received news of the Emmy nomination, we were all very excited that this production presenting music of African-American traditions -- that was so special to each of us -- was also recognized by the industry as noteworthy," she added. "We've all heard it before, but it truly is an honor just to be nominated."

Cooper also has been nominated for another WFYI production, "Open Door: China in Indiana," in the Musical Composition/Arrangements category. He composed the show's theme music.

"When I initially sat down with Clayton Taylor and Bob Williams at WFYI to discuss the possibilities of 'Musical Threads,' I had no idea that our relationship would develop into one that would also produce 'Open Door,' and subsequently two Emmy nominations," Cooper said.

Marietta Simpson

Print-Quality Photo

"I will always be grateful for the openness and expertise of those gentlemen and the tremendous talent of my friend, Marietta, for providing me with an opportunity to do what I love: create music. I am also thankful for my rigorous training in the Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology and the Jacobs School of Music, which together prepared me to engage 'Musical Threads' and 'Open Door' in a culturally sensitive manner with a broad artistic stroke," Cooper said. "Most importantly, I'm thankful to God for my wife and manager, Joii Cooper, who is consistent with her support, which keeps me on point."

Along with producing music for documentaries, Cooper has served as music director, accompanist and arranger for such diverse artists as Angela Brown, Soulful Symphony, Dionne Warwick, A Taste of Honey and Donnie McClurkin to name a few. Simpson has sung with major orchestras and opera companies throughout the United States under many of the world's greatest conductors, including the late Robert Shaw in her Carnegie Hall debut in 1988, as well as Kurt Masur, Lorin Maazel and Simon Rattle. Her many recordings and television appearances include the Covent Garden production of "Porgy and Bess."

"Musical Threads" originally was broadcast in October and will be re-aired on WFYI at 4 a.m. May 19. Winners will be announced at the annual Lower Great Lakes Regional Emmy Awards on June 2 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis.