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Spotlight: Joyce Randolph, '70, MA'72

Finding Her Voice

Courtesy Joyce Randolph

JOYFUL NOISE: Randolph found a new career when she went to her husband’s church.

When Joyce Hurdle was a music major at Stanford, she remembers being told she could not sing. For years afterward, she kept her voice quiet. She completed the Stanford Teacher Education Program and pursued a career in teaching, her other passion.

But these days, Joyce Randolph is a blues and jazz singer who last year released her second CD, Just a Little Blue. She sings her heart out at mega churches, thriving nightclubs, sold-out concerts, jazz festivals and live radio shows.

“How lucky I am to get this job in the vineyard,” says Randolph, 56, alluding to a biblical passage to describe the spiritual satisfaction of her second career. “I sing the things I’ve lived. It comes from the heart.”

Randolph’s career as vocalist took off after she retired from teaching English in the East Side Union High School District in San Jose. Barney Randolph, her third husband, had convinced her to accompany him to his Baptist church. He told the minister his wife had a Stanford degree in music. Before she knew it, Randolph was singing in church and at weddings, funerals and graduations.

An invitation in 2001 to sing with the Calvin Keys Trio at the San Jose Jazz Festival moved her to the professional realm. Steve Saperstein, former general director of the San Jose Jazz Society, calls her “one of the most authentic jazz vocalists that I’ve had the pleasure to know. Her blues and gospel influence is obviously firsthand and she combines this with a big, well-trained voice.”

When Randolph isn’t teaching piano lessons through her home-based Randolph School of Music, she is working on her next concert or talking to her backup regulars, pianist Bill Bell, drummer Omar Clay and bassist Jeff Chambers, about their next radio performance.

“Things have just come my way,” says Randolph with a contagious smile. “I’ve had a lot of obstacles in my life, but I am a firm believer in there is a purpose to everything. My credo is, ‘Joy is a choice.’ I wake up every morning and say, ‘How lucky to have this day.’”

 


--MELINDA SACKS, ’74

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