MOST alumnus Rashaan Jiles-Boulding graduated from Memphis University School in 2014. He is now a senior at Belmont University with a major in commercial music and an emphasis in composition and arranging.
How do you think MUS prepared you for making your way at Belmont?
The curriculum in core subjects served me well for my general education requirements. As a music student, I learned well from the music environment at MUS, with a great foundation of theory and ear training from Mr. Jonathan Saunders’ AP Music Theory class and from my time in Beg to Differ (a cappella group) under the direction of the late Mr. John Hiltonsmith.
What do you like most about being a student at Belmont?
I cherish the community I have been able to find. Of course, I will always have my family in Memphis, but I have been very fortunate to find a family and home in Belmont through my major, my time as a resident assistant, my role as president of the music fraternity Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, and in many other involvements and friendships.
What you have learned from working as a resident assistant?
I am going into my third year as an RA. I have learned how to prioritize my time and serve others effectively while balancing my well-being, plan and coordinate community events, effectively communicate, resolve interpersonal conflicts, and assist others in solving internal conflicts. There is a lot to do as an RA, and it’s a 24-hour job. If you combine that with everything else I do, it’s enough to drive you a little crazy, but the biggest blessing has been learning how to take care of myself while holding a position that charges me with taking care of so many other people.
How did you get into music?
I started singing when I was very young and joined the Memphis BoyChoir in elementary school. Eventually, I transitioned to the Memphis ChamberChoir and also sang at church. While at MUS, I did musical theater and sang in Beg to Differ. Mr. Hiltonsmith also gave me an opportunity to start an a cappella group with friends at Hutchison and St. Mary's. Currently, I play a bit of piano in addition to my singing, and I recently bought an electric bass!
Which musicians are you currently listening to? Which have been your greatest influences?
Right now (and hopefully every day for the rest of my life), I am on a Stevie Wonder vibe. In his lifetime, he has taken music to amazing heights, and I think his work is the greatest to cherish. I also listen to a lot of jazz and a little funk. Some other influences I have are Frank Ocean, Beyoncé, John Legend, Justin Timberlake, and Michael Jackson.
What name do you go by professionally?
My artist name is Marquis. Most people in Nashville call me that now. It’s my middle name, and it just rings well for involvement with my music.
Tell us about any new music you have coming out.
I am releasing a five-song EP this summer. It’s R&B/soul with a heavy jazz influence. I have been working on it since after my freshman year at Belmont. All of the music is my original writing, but I had some excellent players come in for it. The production has been a collaboration between me as producer and my good friend Camden Hutcheson as head engineer with tracking and mixing. I imagine that I’ll perform it live at some point, but right now my main focus is getting people to hear it.*
This year, you were awarded the prestigious Dr. Fannie Hewlett Award, which is given to one undergraduate and one graduate student each year. Tell us what receiving this honor means to you.
Awards are always a nice motivator to keep on keeping on. I’ve done my best to serve my community here, and I feel so happy to have received such a nice honor. Meeting Dr. Hewlett was pretty remarkable. She reminds me a lot of my grandma, and speaking with her gave me so much hope for my own future.
What do you hope to do when you graduate from Belmont?
I am hoping to go into some freelance composition and arranging work while attending graduate school. While I won’t be living in Memphis, I’m sure that I’d be willing to take a performance opportunity there if it comes up and works out for whatever I am doing. That would definitely give me even more reasons to visit my family.
*To listen to Rashaan’s music, visit his SoundCloud page.