Black History Month: The Wesleyan Way, Tevin Vincent ’14

by Madeline Shook ’23

Tevin Vincent ’14 began his experience at Kentucky Wesleyan College as a transfer student from Catawba College in North Carolina. The opportunity to earn a bachelor of music degree instead of a bachelor of arts degree initially attracted him to the College. Music had always been a true passion for Tevin, and he wanted his education to better reflect that. More importantly, Tevin admired professors Dennis Jewett and the late Paul Oakley, and he valued their influence and mentorship. “For a vocalist, it doesn’t matter where you go to college necessarily; it’s who you study with that can take your voice to the next level. I found my voice with Professor Jewett,” Tevin shared.

Tevin’s transition to Kentucky Wesleyan was an adjustment eased by the wonderful faculty.

“Coming to Kentucky Wesleyan as a Black student was a bit of a culture shock… Owensboro was different, but special in so many ways. The faculty at Kentucky Wesleyan made our transition so warm and welcoming,” Tevin remembered.

As the only Black member of his fraternity, Sigma Phi Epsilon, Tevin recalled that his brothers never let the color of his skin affect their brotherhood. These moments and more are what truly allowed him to feel at home in a new and unfamiliar environment.

When asked what advice he had for incoming black freshmen, Tevin has this to share:

“Know that you belong in the room. Seize every opportunity you can to network and get to know people based on their character. At Kentucky Wesleyan, you will be a minority, but that’s what makes you special. Forget all the prejudices surrounding our world, and embrace what is right in front of you. Do not judge your professors or other students based on their skin color, just treat them how you want to be treated. Carry yourself with integrity, and present yourself with dignity.”

As a music major, Tevin spent most weekends traveling with fellow singers to different churches and conferences to perform. While performing, he would stay with families who belonged to those churches.

“Before we left the host family’s house, we were instructed to write a handwritten note to leave on our beds, thanking the hosts for their hospitality. Often the hosts would respond with, ‘I can say that I knew you when…’. As I have journeyed through my career, this rings true. Families you have interacted with over the years will be your biggest supporters and follow you throughout your journey.”

Tevin’s other musical endeavors as a student included performing with the Owensboro Symphony Orchestra and Kentucky Opera as the jailor in Puccini’s Tosca, singing with the Kentucky Opera as a sergeant in Puccini’s La bohéme and regularly worshipping as a bass soloist at First Presbyterian Church of Owensboro.

After graduating from Kentucky Wesleyan in 2014, Tevin received a full ride to The Boston Conservatory at Berklee. While in Boston, Tevin kept busy with his studies and working as a vocal coach, bass soloist and performing in multiple operas over the next few years.

Following completion of his studies at The Boston Conservatory, Tevin moved to Baltimore, Md., and taught music at Thomas Johnson Elementary Middle School. He continued working as a bass soloist in addition to performing with the Maryland Opera and working as an academic assistant and voice teacher at the Summer Institute for the Gifted at Princeton University.

In 2017, Tevin moved back to Owensboro, enrolled in a master of music in vocal performance program at the University of Kentucky and began teaching at Estes Elementary School. Tevin shared that his biggest career win since moving back to the Bluegrass State was having the privilege to perform the National Anthem for the Grand Prix of the 2022 Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event in Rolex Stadium at the Kentucky Horse Park before 30,000 fans, which was televised on NBC.

Tevin now lives in Evansville, Ind,. where he is finishing his degree and continuing to play as a bass soloist at First Presbyterian in Owensboro.

Though already very successful in his music career with more achievements to come, Tevin attributes these successes to “his greatest mentor and lifelong friend,” Professor Dennis Jewett. “Professor Jewett has been there for me in my life and career more than anyone else in the world,” he shared. “He taught me how to not just be a singer, but a musician. There have been many hours on the phone picking his brain and figuring out life. I attribute all my success to him. I wouldn’t be where I am today without his guidance.”

When asked what it means to him to be an alumnus of KWC, Tevin shared, “Being an alumnus of Kentucky Wesleyan College means being a part of a prestigious group of individuals yearning to make a profound impact on world. Kentucky Wesleyan alumni are represented throughout the country and world.” He then shared a story about meeting a woman at the 2019 Met Gala who is a great friend of President Emeritus Bart Darrell ’84! What a small world!

Tevin added, “Having a connection to my alma mater has always been important to me. The values instilled in me are ultimately helping spread The Wesleyan Way to the world.”

In December, Tevin will be a featured soloist with the Owensboro Symphony’s “Home for the Holidays” concert, and he will perform “Mary Did You Know?” and “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch.” He hopes to see you there!