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Singing a Different Tune With Eddie Sayles

Eddie Sayles ’11 almost didn’t make it to Claremont. A good student in high school, he still wasn’t sure about his chances at Pomona. Music Professor Donna M. Di Grazia, however, heard something special in his voice submission and suggested to admissions that he would make an exceptional contribution to the Music Department.

Four years later, Sayles has confirmed Di Grazia’s intuitions, developing a robust music resume at Pomona without seeming to even break a sweat. He participates in glee club, choir and the a cappella group Mood Swing; studies classical piano; and regularly serves as an accompanist at student recitals. A double major in music and media studies, he has also shown an academic  inclination in the arts, writing papers about such topics as the ethnography of museum displays and the use of sound in silent film. His senior seminar paper will focus on the different ways in which video-game soundtracks establish mood and atmosphere.

Sayles is quite happy that he opted for a liberal arts college rather than a specialized conservatory. “I didn’t know at that time that I was going to be a full-on musician, and I wanted to have the well-rounded education that I knew I could get at Pomona,” he says.

Sayles’ passion for music was apparent as early as sixth grade, when he started singing at Westchester Lutheran Church in his native Los Angeles, eventually becoming a praise leader and soloist in the congregation. He picked up piano in high school, but says that it wasn’t until getting involved at Pomona that he truly realized his calling. He plans to go to graduate school for classical music study, with an ultimate goal of potentially pursuing professional opera.

His growth as a student-musician at Pomona is thanks in no small part to financial aid, which has funded all of his voice and piano lessons, as well as a portion of his tuition bills. He received a McCord Grant from the Music Department that paid for him to attend the prestigious Song Fest music program last summer. “I’m so grateful to the school for supporting my education and my musical abilities,” he says. “They really work hard to give students opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise be able to have.”

Editor's note: The article was originally published in our Fall 2010 Pomona College Campaign Journal, which is a newsletter updating the Pomona College community on campaign progress. For more information, please visit our campaign website.