WCS students makin’ melodies and music

By: Maria Allard | Warren Weekly | Published April 13, 2018

 Blue Spectrum — which consists of graduates of Sterling Heights High School and Cousino High School — was slated to open for Nick Jonas April 14, after press time.

Blue Spectrum — which consists of graduates of Sterling Heights High School and Cousino High School — was slated to open for Nick Jonas April 14, after press time.

Photo provided by Blue Spectrum

 Warren Mott High School 2017  graduate Alison Buckman was scheduled to appear on the PBS-Detroit talent show “Celebration of Music” hosted by Ethan Bortnick April 13, after press time.

Warren Mott High School 2017 graduate Alison Buckman was scheduled to appear on the PBS-Detroit talent show “Celebration of Music” hosted by Ethan Bortnick April 13, after press time.

Photo provided by Louise Buckman

Catching Up With Alumni
“Catching Up With Alumni” highlights the accomplishments of past high school graduates. In this issue, we look at graduates from Warren Consolidated Schools who are making their mark on the local music scene.


WARREN/STERLING HEIGHTS/ROCHESTER HILLS/DETROIT — As the Warren Weekly went to press last week, two musical entities from Warren Consolidated Schools were gearing up for a big weekend.

On April 13, Alison Buckman, 18, was scheduled to appear on the PBS-Detroit talent show “Celebration of Music” hosted by Ethan Bortnick. Artists submitted their videos for a chance to win a live spot on the show in the coming weeks. For more information, visit www.celebrationofmusic.com/alison-buckman.

On another stage, the band Blue Spectrum — which consists of graduates of Sterling Heights High School and Cousino High School — was on the bill to open for Nick Jonas April 14 at the Meadow Brook Amphitheatre on the Oakland University campus in Rochester Hills.

The artists honed their skills while attending school in WCS, and they also can be found on YouTube.


All that jazz
Buckman, a 2017 Warren Mott High School graduate, is currently a creative advertising major at Michigan State University, but that hasn’t stopped her from making music. The talented musician is not only an accomplished singer, but she can also entertain on guitar and ukulele. In addition, she kept a steady beat as a drum major of the Marauder Music Machine marching band during the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons. She also played the trumpet for 8 years.

“I like music because it is a way to express yourself and a way to show your personality,” Buckman said. “It’s an outlet when times get hard. When it helps other people out, it makes me feel good.”

Buckman is primarily a jazz singer, but also enjoys pop music. Her mom often played Etta James and Ella Fitzgerald at home while she was growing up, and their styles made an impression.

“They just had these powerful and inspirational voices. I like how smooth they were,” Buckman said. “I think jazz fits my voice better. It’s a little more soulful. It’s something I like singing.”

She’s also a fan of Amy Winehouse.

“I like how she could take an old song and make it new,” said Buckman, who also has an appreciation for Winehouse’s original music.

Winners of the Ethan Bortnick concert will be announced May 5. According to a press release from Bortnick, “Generations of Music” is a new talent series — hosted by Bortnick — that showcases and celebrates the best young musical talent present in the U.S. today. It’s also a chance for the 16-year-old musician to promote funding support for PBS and the arts.

The winner is decided through TV and internet audience voting. The winner of each location will get to perform one or two solo numbers live on stage with Bortnick at a concert in their area. Winners also will record a professional single with Bortnick that will go on sale on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify and more, as well as have the chance to receive a possible professional entertainment contract with the show’s production/talent management company, Sun and Sky Entertainment.

“I think it’s a good opportunity and a good exposure,” Buckman said.


Singing the blues
At press time, local rock band Blue Spectrum was preparing to play its biggest venue so far: the Meadow Brook Amphitheatre.

The band — lead singer Omar Wajeeh, guitarists Antonio Monteleone and Noah Anderson, bassist Kevin Taegel, keyboardist Tanner Allen and drummer Mitchell Waske — won the Battle of the Bands contest during the Student Program Board Springfest April 6 on the OU campus.

Their prize was the opening slot for the Nick Jonas concert. Jonas, once a member of the musical group the Jonas Brothers with his siblings Kevin and Joe, is on tour. He has appeared on television, and Waske remembers the actor when he was a regular on the Disney Channel.

“We’re very excited to have the opportunity and the exposure,” Waske said. “It’s pretty exciting to open up for a headline act like that.”

Blue Spectrum has been together for about two years and has attracted a following of fans with gigs at various local haunts, including the Warren Farmers Market, Sterlingfest at Dodge Park in Sterling Heights and Freddy’s Bar and Grill in Clinton Township.

The band’s set list favors songs by their favorite classic rock artists, including Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Kansas, Heart and Rush. Audience members also are treated to pop tunes by the band. To date, Blue Spectrum has about 15 originals, and released a five-song self-titled EP, available for purchase at their shows.

All six musicians were involved in the band programs when in high school. With a passion for playing, the band members clicked and eventually became Blue Spectrum. The classic rock vibe they play no doubt came from their parents.

“(They) kind of brainwashed us. In a way, it exposed us to that kind of music,” Waske said. “We’re really into the talent of the ’70s and ’80s. It’s a timeless genre. Everyone still likes it. You can still appreciate it.”

The band’s overall goal for now is “to get as far as we can until everyone needs to settle down,” Waske said. “We’re doing what we love.”

In addition to the Nick Jonas show, Blue Spectrum is slated to play at Warren’s second annual Big Brew Fest April 28 at Halmich Park. Information on the event is available at warrenbigbrew.com.

Follow Blue Spectrum on Twitter at @bluespectrum6.