WHEELERSBURG — A new album by a local jazz musician with multiple decades of experience from Wheelersburg has generated positive feedback from across the country.
Gary L. Billups, 78, a former music director at Clay Local School District and music educator in Ohio and Kentucky for more than four decades, released a new album with Tom Stephens and Sheung-Ping Lai April 27, 2021.
Spring Nocturnes is composed of nine jazz songs that focus on spring.
“We tried to write every song pertaining to spring,” Billups said. “The reaction has been great, We have gotten reactions from all over the U.S.”
Billups, who was inducted into the Wheelersburg Alumni Hall of Fame July 28, 2012, said he doesn’t plan on quitting anytime soon.
“It keeps me going, I play two to three times a week,” Billups said. “As of right now I play all over the place, I travel all over the United States. It’s something I wouldn’t want to quit unless I had to.”
Billups earned his A.B degree in Music Education from Morehead State University, and his M.A degree from Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia. In 2010 he began to give jazz lectures in Hong Kong. Billups said playing an instrument is his main passion.
“Music is my whole life, Whether teaching or playing,” he said. “I have been very fortunate to play all over the U.S. and in Hong Kong, China.”
Billups described the album as a team effort that took patience and time.
Dr. Sheung-Ping Lai, an artist who helped make the album received her D.M.A, in Composition from The Ohio State University. In recent years, she has been actively involved in Jazz education. Since COVID, she has been giving online music theory and composition lessons to students from around the world.
Tom Stephens, pastor, and member from Greenup who helped create the album, earned his A. B. degree in Music Education and M. A. degree from Morehead State University. Currently, Stephens is in his 29th year as director of Choral Music and Guitar at Raceland Worthington High School in Raceland, Kentucky.
Soon, Outlets in the Greenup-Ashland area will be selling the new album. Spring Nocturnes can be found on Apple Music, YouTube, Spotify and other various music platforms.
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