In the last year, Houston pianist Jade Simmons has traveled to New York City, Greece, Italy and St. Petersburg, Russia, for the Tchaikovsky Competition as a Web cast host.
Now Simmons, who was recently named by the Houston Press as "Best Arts Ambassador," has been invited to play at the White House's Holiday Open House (which runs December 3 to 23) on December 16. She'll be one of several artists from around the world asked to perform.
"It's so surreal. It hasn't hit me yet," Simmons says.
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Though the Obamas may not be in attendance for her performance, Simmons is still psyched to play before assorted dignitaries and a few of her own special guests from Houston and her hometown, Charleston, South Carolina.
Simmons, who started playing piano at eight years old, is also looking forward to spring 2012 when she will release her new CD, #PaganiniProject. She describes the CD as combining classical music with an edgy sound to recreate the stylings of Paganini, Rachmaninoff and others. For an original work titled "Electronic Improvisations on a Tune by Rachmaninoff," she collaborated with Roburt Reynolds, who created the electronic beats.
She still takes time to mentor music students on how to build a career in the music industry. The type of advice Simmons gives, she feels, is not emphasized in schools. Which is why on a deeper level the "Best Arts Ambassador" title has meant so much to her.
"To see what people really think is humbling," Simmons relates. "You get so busy you forget people pay attention."