Three CLA alumni featured at the Alumni Association's Annual Celebration
Annual Celebration, presented by Huntington Bank, is the University of Minnesota's Alumni Association's signature spring event and exists to showcase how University alumni embody the outcome of the University’s teaching mission--strengthening and leading their communities every day, in every industry. This year’s evening spotlights the substantial impact of University of Minnesota alumni on the music industry.
Three of the five featured speakers are CLA alumni.
Singer, rapper, and writer Dessa has made a career of bucking genres and defying expectations—her résumé as a musician includes performances at Lollapalooza and Glastonbury, co-compositions for 100-voice choir, performances with the Minnesota Orchestra, and top-200 entries on the Billboard charts. She contributed to the #1 album The Hamilton Mixtape: her track, “Congratulations,” has notched over 20 million streams.
As a writer, she’s been published by The New York Times and National Geographic Traveler, broadcast by Minnesota Public Radio, and published a memoir-in-essays (My Own Devices, 2018) in addition to two literary collections.
As a speaker, Dessa has delivered keynote speeches and presentations on art, science, and entrepreneurship; guest lectures at universities and colleges across the US; and a TED Talk about her science experiment on how to fall out of love. She’s also the host of Deeply Human, a podcast created by the BBC and American Public Media.
Dessa has been covered by Pitchfork, Forbes, and The Wall Street Journal amongst others. The LA Times says she “sounds like no one else.” NPR’s All Songs Considered calls her “a national treasure.” On the stage and on the page, Dessa’s style is defined by ferocity, wit, tenderness, and candor.
Jim Walsh is an award-winning author, journalist, writer, and songwriter from Minneapolis. A columnist for the Southwest Journal and regular contributor to MinnPost.com, his work has appeared in Rolling Stone, the Village Voice, the St. Paul Pioneer Press, City Pages, and many other publications.
Walsh honed his craft during his time as a student writing for the Minnesota Daily, including serving as editor of the Arts & Entertainment section in 1989. He went on to author a number of music-related books including “Bar Yarns and Manic-Depressive Mixtapes: Jim Walsh on Music from Minneapolis to the Outer Limits” (University of Minnesota Press, 2016), “Gold Experience: Following Prince in the ‘90s” (University of Minnesota Press, 2017), “The Replacements: All Over But The Shouting: An Oral History” (Voyageur Press, 2007) and, with Dennis Pernu, “The Replacements: Waxed Up Hair and Painted Shoes: The Photographic History” (Voyageur Press, 2013). A teacher at the Loft Literary Center and recipient of the John S. Knight Fellowship at Stanford University, Walsh is also the former leader of bands REMs, Laughing Stock, and The Mad Ripple, and the ringleader behind the 10-year-old singer/songwriter showcase The Mad Ripple Hootenanny.
His new band Jim Walsh and the Dog Day Cicadas released its debut CD “Songs For The Band To Learn” in May 2017 and is at work on a new EP set for release in summer, 2022.
Since moving to Minnesota from his native Ireland to complete graduate degrees with U of M violin professor Sally O’Reilly, Conor O’Brien has built an eclectic professional portfolio that covers almost every facet of the music business.
As a violinist, he has performed with the Minnesota Orchestra and St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, and is a core member of the Minnesota Opera Orchestra. He has performed on three continents, including a tour of South Korea with the World Symphony Orchestra. Conor has recorded extensively for television and radio, performed in Broadway shows, and collaborated with artists in many diverse genres including hip-hop, rock, and pop.
As a baroque violinist, he has performed with Christ Church Baroque (now Irish Baroque Orchestra), Lyra Baroque Orchestra, the Bach Society of MN, Mirandola Ensemble, Bach Tage, and Bach Roots Festival.
Conor has been a faculty member and/or guest clinician at Luther College, Bemidji State University, Gustavus Adolphus College, Shattuck St. Mary’s pre-conservatory program, MacPhail Center for Music, and many other schools and programs in the Midwest. His entrepreneurial spirit and passion for working with people complement his work as performer and teacher. He is artistic director of the Loring String Quartet, and music contractor and consultant for many local and national music organizations.
In his free time, he loves travel, playing soccer, and spending time with his family.
Also featured: Playwright, poet, and writer Saymoukda Vongsay and pop pianist, composer & entertainment producer Phil Thompson
Friday, April 29, 2022
4:30 PM Alumni Entrepreneur Happy Hour
5:30 PM Cocktail Hour & Alumni Entrepreneur Showcase
6:45 PM Dinner
7:30 PM Program featuring a panel of music industry alumni