IU hires Crystal Taliefero to lead IU Soul Revue

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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Crystal Taliefero, a world-renowned performer and Indiana University alumna, has been hired as the new director of the IU Soul Revue.

Taliefero is a multi-instrumentalist and vocalist. She began recording and touring first with hometown rocker John Mellencamp in 1985 and has been a member of the Billy Joel Band since 1989. She also has worked with Bruce Springsteen, Faith Hill, Brooks & Dunn, Garth Brooks, Bob Seger, Joe Cocker, Michael McDonald, the Bee Gees, Richie Sambora, Elton John, Tina Arena, Enrique Iglesias, Natalie Merchant and Julian Lennon.

She is an alumna of Soul Revue and a recipient of the Herman C. Hudson Alumni Award, which recognizes former student ensemble and staff members who, after leaving IU, have made outstanding contributions in the arts.

“I had the pleasure of working with Crystal Taliefero when she was a member of IU Soul Revue back in the '80s,” said Charles Sykes, executive director of the African American Arts Institute. “She had this incredible energy and showmanship that inspired everyone around her. I’m delighted that she will be returning to IU to share her years of professional experience with our students.”

Taliefero said it is a privilege to come back to IU and lead a program that helped shape her professional career. She credits the work of current and former IU faculty and students Portia Maultsby, James Mumford, Charles Sykes and Cheryl Keyes for her success and said she hopes to provide students with similar support and encouragement.  

“IU Soul Revue was one of the major turning points of my early beginnings as a professional live performer, and I’ve been on the road touring and recording ever since,” she said. “This is my mission as well, to follow in those footsteps before me and to try and push as many students as I possibly can to help reach their inner Soul just a little deeper. The African American Arts Institute is a place where I can still call home, and it feels good to be back.”

Taliefero is replacing Tyron Cooper, who left the position to focus on research and creative activity.

The IU Soul Revue -- which celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2012 -- is one of three performing arts ensembles managed by the African American Arts Institute at IU Bloomington. The other two are the African American Dance Company and African American Choral Ensemble. The three ensembles are offered for course credit through IU’s Department of African American and African Diaspora Studies. Soul Revue performs timeless R&B, soul, funk and contemporary Black popular music styles delivered by its commanding male and female vocal ensemble, powerful horn line and tight rhythm section. The group, which has become known for its high-energy, impeccable musicianship and soulful delivery, makes annual appearances in schools, colleges and universities, nightclubs and other venues. The group has also opened for renowned artists, including The Emotions, James Brown, The Temptations, Con Funk Shun and Booker T. Jones.