The purpose of Excelsior Life’s Passionate Pursuits is to help shine a light on faculty and staff successfully balancing work, home and family – just like our students.
Kendra Jones is the executive administrative assistant to the vice president of Enrollment Management. “I love working as an executive assistant because I like making other people’s lives easier,” said Jones. “I enjoy being a support [for my unit and the College].” The Albany, New York native worked as a full time singer/musician, music teacher, choir director, and professional songwriter/studio vocal arranger in New Jersey prior to joining Excelsior. She had the opportunity to collaborate with gifted artists and producers in a variety of genres (jazz, gospel, soul, rock, etc.). Jones shares her story of how she got involved with her love for music in this ‘Passionate Pursuits’ series.
Excelsior Life: At what age did you become interested in singing?
Jones: I was interested in singing about as early as I can remember. But I think my interest heightened around age 14 or 15. Around that time, I began playing the piano and drums, my love for writing poetry transitioned into songwriting, and I began to see music as something I desired to pursue professionally.
Excelsior Life: Is your skill self-taught or inherited from a family member? Did you ever take lessons?
Jones: I definitely have to thank God for giving me the musical abilities that I have. Music seemed to come to me quite naturally. My grandmothers are singers also. I have been blessed to be surrounded by wonderful musicians, instructors, professors, producers, family, and friends who have all in some way or another contributed to my musical growth.
I took lessons in college while majoring in vocal performance. I studied classical music for a little over five years. It definitely stretched me musically and gave me a deep appreciation for the genre.
Excelsior Life: Were you involved in any extracurricular activities growing up that helped you master your craft of singing?
Jones: I sang in choirs, performed in school plays, and ensembles. I would also sit for hours recording vocal harmonies, arranging music, and composing songs on the piano.
Excelsior Life: What inspires you most?
Jones: I think love inspires me the most.
“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” – 1 Corinthians 13:13Love is one of the greatest things we can give to others. I love music and I love people. When people listen to me sing or play music I want them to be inspired, encouraged, and feel love through my songs.
Excelsior Life: You did an amazing job singing at Commencement this year. What did you have to do to prepare for this role?
Jones: Thank you. Singing for Commencement was one of the most incredible experiences. It was actually one of my dreams to sing at the Convention Center. I prayed and I practiced to prepare for Commencement. I really wanted both songs to be special for the students, staff, and everyone in attendance. I just kept reminding myself of whom/what the event was really about and the fact that I wanted the songs to really encourage and bless people.
Please start the video at 1:05 to view Kendra singing the “Star Spangled Banner”
Excelsior Life: If you could do a duet with any artist, who would it be and why?
Jones: I would like to do a duet with Stevie Wonder. He is very musically talented, plays a variety of instruments, and really seems to put his heart into his music. I think singing a duet with him would be fun and an amazing experience.
Excelsior Life: What would someone reading this be surprised to learn about you and your passion?
Jones: I also love to teach music. I get excited when I see others grow and I can share what I have learned.