Music Graduate Performs at Vanessa Williams' Wedding

Greg Webster, a 2009 Music Department graduate, had the opportunity to give a career-changing performance in Buffalo. His jazz trio was asked to perform at the wedding of Hollywood star Vanessa Williams – by the actress herself.

“I was thrilled when she requested my services for her wedding,” Webster said. “It didn't really settle in until she emailed me confirming she wanted Katalyst to perform. Just being able to physically see the request put me over the top,” he added.

Williams married Jim Skrip, a retired account from Depew, on July 4, 2015. Webster’s jazz trio, which is part of a larger eight-member band, was asked to perform only one week before the secret ceremony. The group is shown at right at Vanessa Williams' wedding. Katalyst Jazz Trio

“I had a blast [at the reception]! Everyone from the sound crew to Mrs. Skrip [Vanessa Williams] were very welcoming and open. It really set the tone for us to deliver the best performance we could! It was an experience I won't soon forget,” Webster beamed.

Lifelong Musician
As the son of a church organist, Webster says that music has always been a big part of his life. “My earliest memory of music is my parents putting me to sleep with some of their favorite gospel records,” he reminisced. “My father would also have rehearsals at our home, so I would always love to sit and listen to them rehearse.”

At the young age of 5, Webster fell in love with the drums. “I heard the drummer play this fancy drum roll that immediately stole my attention. That same day, I walked over to the drums and the drummer let me sit behind the kit and ‘mess around.’ The rest, as they say, is history!”

Buffalo State Beginnings
Webster began his studies at Buffalo State in 2005, and despite his technical ability on drums, he had little-to-no experience reading pitched percussion music such as that written for xylophone, bells, marimba, or vibes.

“In Greg's case it was the music faculty's job to arm him with the musical brains to equal his technical braun,” said Dr. Bradley Fuster, Special Assistant to the Provost for Innovative Learning, and previously served as Chair of the Music Department and was one of Webster’s music professors. “Greg loved learning, and for that reason the faculty enjoyed teaching him,” he added.

“After meeting Greg, I liked him immediately,” Fuster said. “He was intelligent, respectful, industrious, and had a terrific sense of humor. Greg was passionate about the drum set, jazz and funk drumming, but most importantly, showed desire to learn the rest of the orchestral and ethnic percussion instruments, and wanted to know everything I could teach him,” Fuster noted. “As a professor, Greg was that knowledge-thirsty student we all want,” he said.

“Buffalo State gave Greg a solid musical foundation and a strong liberal arts education. He had learned traditional music theory, history, and percussion repertoire, but he still really loved playing jazz,” Fuster commented.
Webster is now preparing to release his first record with Katalyst at the end of the year. “I am so proud of Greg and proud that Buffalo State was a part of his journey,” Fuster beamed.