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Student Profile Series: Joel Tatum

Name: Joel "JoJo" Tatum

Age: 59

Where do you live? What’s cool about it?

Montrose California! It's 20 minutes from downtown Los Angeles. You can actually see the entire downtown LA skyline as well as the ocean behind it from atop Oceanview Boulevard, BUT it's a small sweet little town with kids on scooters and Big Wheels crashing down the sidewalks. It's like either stepping back into the late 50's or stepping into Norman Rockwell's subconscious, or both.

What would surprise people about you if they found out?

That I'm an okay comic, nominated for Chicago's version of the Tony Award for solo comic performance when I was 23. The play was Tom Stoppard's Dirty Linen - New Found Land. My part was the New Found Land monologue.

Do you remember the first time you ever sang a solo?

Yes. It was...well, a while ago. Godspell had just come out and my best friend Dennis recruited me for his BIG Methodist Church's performance because I sang loud and to everything on the radio. Probably coulda put that together a LONG time ago!

How did you become interested in Southern Gospel music?

Elvis Presley

Who's your favorite artist currently performing? Who's your favorite of all time?

Sturgill Simpson/Elvis Presley

When was the first time you came to the school? Why did you decide to attend?

Last year was my first time. What attracted me was the fact that Charlie Hodges went to the Stamps School. However, what clinched the deal was Ben Speer emailing me about my fee at 1 or 2 AM, AND the fact that it's a total immersion schedule.

What was your favorite thing about attending?

Being around so many focused and dedicated people all working so hard on what they are passionate about.

What do you feel is the most important thing you learned during your time at the school?

Ensemble, pitch, timing, phrasing, and that I can sing tenor. I got placed between two guys with AMAZING voices. I may not have been any good, but they really helped me be better.

What did you learn that you have used the most since attending?

Vocal lessons Michael the conductor gave, and the note given by Joyce Martin on signing the words of the song - sing the story vs the fun lines.

Who was your favorite teacher, and why?

Oooo, torn here. Joyce Martin for honesty of delivery and the practicality of the tools she gave in performance breakdown, and Michael the conductor. That was a tough gig, boy, and with so many unsmiling, critical eyes on him, too. Yet he stayed focused and focused the group each and every time. Kept his sense of humor, too.

If you eventually want to do music full-time, do you feel like attending the school has helped you move toward that goal? If so, in what way?

YESSSS! I'm just re-creating myself, so it gave me the conviction I was lacking, as far as direction. I moved from thinking about it to now doing, as far as God being in my music and that my music IS for God THROUGH man.

We at the school want to thank JoJo for being willing to be profiled! If you'd like to participate in our series, just download our questionnaire at Fill it out and send it, along with a picture of yourself, back to us at - it's that easy!

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