By Jaci Jedrych
Christie Dashiell has been musical for as long as she can remember. Current vocalist, composer, and educator, Dashiell said she “came out of the womb singing.” Around 10 years old, she started private violin lessons, and later learned piano. Born in D.C., but raised in North Carolina, Dashiell moved back to the District for college, where she attended Howard University, and then to New York for her graduate degree from Manhattan School of Music in Jazz Voice.
Dashiell has been part of the D.C. music scene for nearly 15 years, since she attended college in 2006. She says that her ability to be truthful has given her staying power. She considers truth to be the most important tool she has as an artist; if you are truthful, the technical aspects fall in line.
“I do my best to be honest in my music,” said Dashiell, “I think people can feel and relate to honesty and to integrity within people’s music.”
She also says that her professionalism is something that sets her apart, especially in the music industry. Dashiell says that being professional and treating others with respect is important for staying relevant.
Her love of music is genetic. Her father, Carroll Dashiell, was a bassist who toured with the likes of Ray Charles and Maceo Parker, and all of her siblings are musicians. Dashiell says her father was responsible for creating a musical home, teaching her and her siblings about music and the industry. From his stories and watching him on the road, she learned her love for jazz, touring, and “beautiful music.” Dashiell says her father led by example in teaching how to maintain a work-life balance, putting family first.
Family is crucial for Christie Dashiell. She spends as much time with them as she can, and both has fun with and learns from them. She considers everyone she plays music with to be her family, but most literally, her biological oldest brother and “best friend” plays drums for her. According to Dashiell, there are both advantages and drawbacks to being as close as she is to her band.
“It can be a double-edged sword sometimes, but mostly, I experience the positive side, where it’s all love when you’re on the road. We’re laughing, we’re joking, we’re eating together, we’re making amazing, beautiful memories. Because of that love and camaraderie on the road – that family – when you get on stage, your music is just so full of love and soul… there are spiritual moments that happen because of that closeness, and it feels like you’re levitating in that moment,” Dashiell said.
“And then, also because we’re so close, sometimes it can be challenging because maybe one of us isn’t in the best mood or you know this person might be habitually late, which affects all of us, and you can experience both sides of it.”
Those spiritual moments are especially important to Dashiell. She has a deep-rooted faith that she believes enriches her music. Her love of Jesus affects every aspect of her life, and when her focus is not on the love of God, she can feel herself out of alignment. Dashiell says that it is especially important for her to feel connected to the Spirit while on tour when her life is in a new city every day.
Dashiell says that touring has been a “beautiful” experience and being able to work with legendary artists like Wynton Marsalis has been an amazing learning experience. She lauds Marsalis for his open-mindedness, and how he continues to learn and bring in youth to his music. Dashiell said that despite his fame and time in the industry, he remained very accessible, and talking to him felt like “calling a friend.”
Her tour essentials include water, a good book, and some “cute clothes.” Outside of music, she loves fashion, reading, and other arts, and finds that being able to express herself with an outfit is self-care. Having these hobbies outside of music enriches her sound by offering a wider worldview and a break from her all-consuming career.
In addition to being a musician, Dashiell is an educator. She teaches Jazz Voice at Howard University, University of the District of Colombia, and Temple University. She believes being an educator enriches her performance and that she learns from teaching her students.
Looking to the future of jazz education, Dashiell hopes to see more inclusivity – and not just as a buzzword. She hopes for a real change in curriculum, to one more inclusive of different theories, styles, and key figures. Regard for student wellness, including accommodations for differing abilities, are also important for her.
So what’s next for Christie Dashiell? As venues open back up to the public, she is excited to get back to performing. In addition to returning to her life as a professor, she will teach a virtual workshop for New York Voices, and will begin work with her band and Dianne Reeves, thanks to a grant by Chamber Music America.
Christie Dashiell has carved herself a beautiful space in the Washington, D.C. jazz scene, and is sure to continue making her voice heard. To listen to her music or find her upcoming shows, check out her website here.
Jaci Jedrych is a World Politics student at The Catholic University in Washington, D.C. She loves going to concerts and exploring different genres, and has a passion for arts and news writing.
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