Welcome to my website!

I’m very proud of MTSU’s jazz area being featured in a recent Downbeat Magazine article as one of “Five Gems of Jazz Education”. I’m very proud of our students and faculty. See the link for the article: https://www.mtsu.edu/music/pdf/5gemsdownbeatmtsu.pdf

I'm excited to post some new video and audio of The Tennessee Jazz Collective, our big band in residence at Middle Tennessee State University. Below are two pieces: “Rumour Mill” (based on Norman Rockwell’s painting “The Gossip”) and “Who Am I” (poetry by Dietrich Bonhoeffer), featuring members of the jazz faculty, area pros, and students. Enjoy! More information, recordings, scores, and analyses of these works at www.jameysimmons.com/tjc .

 “Who Am I?” was inspired by the poem of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Below is the poem, and my dedication to prisoners of faith and conscience.   Feel free to download, read stories of the prisoners below, and consider a donation to https://www.persecution.com/

Who am I?

Music by Jamey Simmons

Poetry by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Who am I? They often tell me,
I step from my cell’s confinement
Calmly, cheerfully, firmly,
Like a squire from his country house.

Who am I? They often tell me,
I used to speak to my warders
Freely and friendly and clearly,
As though it were mine to command.

Who am I? They also tell me,
I carried the days of misfortune
Equably, smilingly, proudly,
like one who is used to win.

Am I really then what others say of me?
Or am I only what I know of myself?
Restless, and longing and sick, like a bird in a cage,
Struggling for breath, as though hands were compressing my throat,
Yearning for colors, for flowers, for the voices of birds,
Thirsting for words of kindness, for neighborliness,
Tossing in expectations of great events,
Powerlessly trembling for friends at an infinite distance,
Weary and empty at praying, at thinking, at making,
Faint, and ready to say farewell to it all.

Who am I? This or the other?
Am I one person today and tomorrow another?
Am I both at once? A hypocrite before others,
And before myself a contemptible woebegone weakling?
Or is something within me still like a beaten army
Fleeing in disorder from victory already achieved?

Who am I? They mock me, these lonely questions of mine.
Whoever I am, Thou knowest, O God, I am thine!

I dedicate this composition to the following prisoners:

  • Zhao Weilang, China, unregistered church member, held 1693 days through the present

  • Twen Theodros, Eritrea, illegal convert, held 2004 - present

  • Abraham Ben Moses, Indonesia, illegal proselytizing, held 434 days - present

  • Wang Quanzhang, China, legal defense of dissidents, held 2015 - present

  • Dr. Kiflu Gebremeskel, Eritrea, former mathematics professor, pastor of unrecognized church, held 2004 - present