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Jade Simmons
Classical pianist Jade Simmons has toured the U.S. extensively, highlighted by concerts on the Ravinia's Rising Stars series, the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, DC, Merkin Hall, and the Detroit Institute of Arts. She has appeared as concerto soloist with the Dallas Symphony, the Chicago Sinfonietta at Chicago's Symphony Hall, the Philharmonia Orchestra of the Americas, and the Imperial Symphony Orchestra. Simmons has also performed in New York's many alternative spaces including Symphony Space, Harlem Gatehouse, Le Poisson Rouges, Joe's Pub, and Brooklyn's BamCafe.

Jade's multiple talents make her a true Renaissance woman of the millennium. She founded the Impulse Artist Series, was the winner of the 2009 Best Non-Profit Arts Series, is a writer and lecturer, and created Emerge Already!, offering career building advice to new artists. In the summers of 2009 and 2011, the world got to know her as the webcast host for the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition and the Tchaikovsky International Competition.

Jade is a native of Charleston, South Carolina and completed her undergraduate work in piano performance at Northwestern University under Sylvia Wang. She was also Miss Chicago, Miss Illinois, and first runner-up at the 2000 Miss America Pageant. Ms. Simmons holds a Master's degree from Rice University, where she studied with acclaimed pianist Jon Kimura Parker.

Entries by Jade Simmons

In the Wake of Trayvon Martin: A Paranoid Artist Mom's Internal Dialogue With Her Son

(257) Comments | Posted July 17, 2013 | 5:56 PM

Son, you're only five now but I can see that I need to make some important decisions for you. I didn't think in 2013 we'd need to talk through this but I shouldn't be shocked as my dad always warned me nothing much has changed. Still, I'm feeling guilty because...

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Elvis, Meryl & Michael at the Cliburn: The Intangibles of "It"

(0) Comments | Posted June 4, 2013 | 1:43 AM

Literally, the toe of his dress shoe appeared from behind the small partition that shielded the pianists from the audience, especially used when they wanted to take a sip of water or dab the sweat from their dripping foreheads in between pieces. But in his case, he hadn't yet played...

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The Ethnography of Second Chances: 2nd Recitals at the Cliburn

(2) Comments | Posted May 31, 2013 | 12:42 PM

By the time this article posts the 12 semi-finalists for the Fourteenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition will have been announced. I've already had countless discussions with camera crew, ushers and audience members who all agree that while they have their favorites, they wouldn't wish the job of the jury...

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A Cameraman's Bird's Eye View at the Cliburn: It's Not What You Think

(2) Comments | Posted May 29, 2013 | 2:16 PM

The other night as we walked back to our cars parked outside of Bass Hall, the final notes of Petrushka not long since fluttering in the air around us, I had a quick conversation with two cameramen. Before they included me in the conversation I walked quietly behind them, having...

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He Should Know: A Cliburn Gold Medalist's Surprising Words of Wisdom

(0) Comments | Posted May 23, 2013 | 9:38 PM

When Haochen Zhang won gold four years ago at the Thirteenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition alongside Japanese pianist Noboyuki Tsujii, the audience witnessed a baby-faced 19 year old with the piano skill and fortitude of someone much older. But mostly what stood out was that he was so darn...

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In Memorium: the Compassion of Van Cliburn

(0) Comments | Posted May 18, 2013 | 1:19 PM

Even in my considerable heels, it still seemed that he loomed large overhead. A glorious shock of still wavy white hair and those gargantuan hands, he wrung them in nervousness. Surely, he wasn't worried about going on camera. I'd seem him hold court and by all accounts he was always...

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Thank God There's No Black Monday in the Arts World, or Maybe There Should Be?

(1) Comments | Posted January 2, 2013 | 11:45 AM

A poor telemarketer for the local symphony called my house one evening. She caught me on a rough night, one fraught with one too many solicitation calls and the demands of a grumpy three-year-old. Out of obligation I listened to the spiel, and when she was done I politely say...

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I'm Sorry, I Thought Celebrating Dying Young Was Always "Inappropriate"

(38) Comments | Posted December 20, 2012 | 4:47 PM

A sincere kudos to Ke$ha for supporting the pulling of her hit song "Die Young" from the airwaves following the Newtown tragedy. It shows a sensitive and thoughtful side of the artist rarely on display. I just wish the song had never made it to market in the first place.

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The Kickstarter Mindset: An Artist's Curse

(8) Comments | Posted December 19, 2012 | 11:57 AM

Making art for art's sake is an artist's job. As is the nature of a job, art should turn up a profit; it must be viable while also admirable. But the making of art that promotes tangible change or new perspective might also be worthy of investment by outside sources....

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The Ugliness of the MacArthurs: The Reality Behind Artistic Jealousy

(2) Comments | Posted October 5, 2012 | 2:25 PM

The MacArthur Genius Grants were announced -- did you feel it, that sharp pang?

Let me first say there's nothing truly ugly about the MacArthur Genius grants. In fact, they're downright beautiful. They're the modern-day patron with no strings attached. Creatives and academicians get recognized without the begging, or the...

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Artists Moms CAN Have It All, Too: The 7 Little 'R' Words That Get You Everything You Want

(3) Comments | Posted August 2, 2012 | 4:09 PM

Let's just put this out there. No one ever asks if men can have it all. You know why? Because men don't ask themselves that same question. They just sort of live their lives and shift things around when need be. They live in phases allowing themselves to intensely focus...

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The Modern-Day Hustler: 5 Things They Do That You're Not Willing to

(3) Comments | Posted July 5, 2012 | 5:06 PM

It's 2:30 a.m. and I can still smell it. It's faint but traceable, no shower could get rid of this particular brand of pheromone. One part sweat, equal parts blood and tears. A dash of desperation mixed with a dollop of hope. A whole heap of tenacity with a splash...

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Classically Trained ... Rappers?!

(7) Comments | Posted April 26, 2012 | 3:38 PM

Rappers Tupac, Nicki Minaj, Slick Rick, Kanye West, Dana Dane and newcomer Azealia Banks all have one thing in common. They all got schooled! Any artist worth their salt has sat through Ear Training, Voice and Diction, Theatre History 1, Art History, and possibly Keyboard Skills and Chorus during the...

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From Our Cold, Dead Hands!: Artists and their Apple Products

(2) Comments | Posted April 11, 2012 | 11:40 AM

The Samsung commercial shows trendy young people eagerly and willingly standing in line outside of what looks like a slick Apple store. The camera turns to one of the guys in line as he says with snooty nonchalance, "I can't get a Samsung. I'm creative." It was supposed...

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Gop Reimagined: Gingrich in Tights?

(0) Comments | Posted February 6, 2012 | 12:41 PM

So it's taken weeks to return to what started out as an easy metaphorical ride, casting GOP candidates in the roles of our most popular Opera characters. Then the race got twisty and turny, Gingrich got interesting, Paul not so easy to brush off and suddenly my casting job got...

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Bachmann as Butterfly?: GOP Candidates Reimagined as Famous Opera Characters, Part 2

(0) Comments | Posted January 11, 2012 | 4:28 PM

Madama Butterfly is an opera in three acts by Giacomo Puccini, with an Italian libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa.

Some plot text taken from Aaron Greene's Synopsis of Madama Butterfly on

Pinkerton: Played by the GOP Nomination and/or Republican Love

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Rick Perry as Carmen?: GOP Candidates Reimagined as Famous Opera Characters, Part 1

(1) Comments | Posted January 5, 2012 | 3:54 PM

Truth is, I'm not a big opera fan but after watching this year's race for the GOP nomination play out, I might be newly converted. It has been entertaining to say the least; a sensational mix of comedy, drama, scandal, conflict and ultimately political death. For a bit of fun,...

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Know Your Worth: A New Year's Resolution Every Artist (and Every Person) Should Make

(4) Comments | Posted December 31, 2011 | 10:34 AM

An artist friend of mine calls me the other night, upset that his manager is still accepting low ball fees without a fight from presenters he's already proven himself to in performances from years before. He goes on and on about how much he has accomplished over the last few...

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The Surprising Thing About Playing at the White House

(5) Comments | Posted December 21, 2011 | 8:16 AM

I always get a chuckle at the political assumptions my friends make: "She's black, she must be a Democrat." "She quotes scripture, she must be conservative." "She's an artist, therefore she's a bleeding heart liberal." "She's a woman, I know where she stands on abortion." Truth is, they are usually...

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