Student Spotlight: Jessica Rucker
Born and raised in the Catskills, Jessica Rucker, Singnasium student, grew up singing with her father who bred and trained standardbred horses on their farm in Sullivan County. He introduced her to greats like Glenn Miller and Frank Sinatra and had the radio station permanently set to AM WNEW (“Eleven three oh, New York!”). “I’d be up at the crack of dawn to help my father in the barn, and I’d serenade the horses while I worked.” She enjoyed performing in school and community theater musicals and gained some professional experience after college as a soloist for churches and local choral societies in the Tri-State area. Shortly after performing the role of Carmen for Delaware Valley Opera, her father was diagnosed with terminal cancer and she reprioritized her life to be available as a caregiver for him which included relocating to Florida. After his death, it became almost impossible for her to sing without crying and so she abandoned performing for years.
Over time, she slowly reconnected with her love of singing by getting involved in local choral societies and church choirs. In 2017, Jessica joined the Master Chorale of South Florida and went on to sing with them onstage with Kol Esperanza, Rocktopia, and Maestro Andrea Bocelli! With the encouragement of her husband and friends, Jessica began signing up for local jazz jams with professional musicians in late 2019, and was singing weekly by the time March, 2020 rolled around. “I was just starting to feel like I could build some momentum as a performer again when the pandemic hit and then everything came to a screeching halt. I felt so heartbroken and lost."
Currently, Jessica works as a Medical Speech-Language Pathologist providing voice and swallowing function rehabilitation to patients in hospitals recovering from critical illnesses, including COVID-19. While quarantined at home, she noticed a post on Facebook about Singapalooza hosted by Lennie Watts, and decided to sign up for the open mic. That experience motivated her to register for Singnasium classes: “Discovering Singasium was like finding an oasis in a desert! It provides invaluable intellectual stimulation, musical training, performance pointers, and social interaction with like-minded people. My therapy work is very mentally and emotionally demanding, so I feel blessed to have this extraordinary opportunity to be a part of the Singnasium family even though I’m 1200 miles away from New York City!”