Ingrid Racine often feels as though she leads a double life. By day she coordinates theater, dance and music performances and lectures, but by night she occupies center stage herself.
“It’s so funny, sometimes I feel like I have these two separate worlds,” said Racine, the Center for World Performance Studies academic program specialist. “Which life do I talk about?”
In her career as a professional trumpeter and composer, Racine has participated in several musical groups such as NOMO, which toured nationally and internationally, and a Detroit-based, all-female jazz group called Straight Ahead.
She has performed with the Marion Hayden Ensemble, Ron Brooks, Wendell Harrison and Ellen Rowe’s “Momentum Project,” alongside involvement in smaller local jazz groups. Her music spans an array of jazz concentrations including swing, mainstream, bebop, fusion and folk.
She leads the jazz group Ingrid Racine Quartet and performs at the Ravens Club in Ann Arbor from 8-11 p.m. every Sunday. In 2014, Racine released the independent album “Concentric Circles,” featuring her trumpet and vocal performances. She is currently working on music for a new album.
Her time spent interacting with international artists through her employment with CWPS has transformed her private musical career.
“Working with these artists makes you feel creative and inspired to create more,” Racine said. “It’s great to connect even on an artist-to-artist level and become friends with these folks. It’s pretty special.”
Racine received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in jazz studies and her Master of Fine Arts degree in improvisation from the School of Music, Theatre & Dance. While completing her master’s degree, she simultaneously participated in a graduate residency program through CWPS, one that made a lasting impact on her professional path.
“One of the reasons why I came back to work for CWPS is because of that program,” she said. “I think it is important for somebody who’s a performer to really get out of that sort of silo of conservatory method and bring some research methodology to your practice and get into a more interdisciplinary space.”
With the funds she received from the program to conduct research, Racine traveled to Mali and India to study different types of improvisational music forms, including the traditional Indian balafon.
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“I really didn’t know what I was getting into,” she said. “I had a background in piano, so I thought it would make sense for me to study the balafon (a xylophone-type instrument). One of the things I became interested in was the role of gender in that particular musical tradition, where the stars are female and the males are usually musical accompanists.
“It was really fun to see the music teaching and learning practices across different cultures.”
At U-M, Racine works with CWPS to coordinate artist residencies. In the weeks leading up to an artist’s visit to the university, Racine arranges the necessary accommodations for their living and performing needs. The center also funds faculty research and student projects related to world performance studies.
“People really like to say that music is a universal language, but that’s not true,” she said. “It is, and it isn’t. There’s so much culturally specific information in any musical practice that it’s not universal, but at the same time there’s something to be said about being able to communicate across cultures in that way.”