Colfax High grad finds her musical home at Jessup

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When she held her newborn baby girl for the first time some 22 years ago, Briana Lee’s mother remembers saying, “Look at those piano fingers.” Lee started playing piano at age 3, and is now a sophomore at William Jessup University in Rocklin where she received a music and academic scholarship. Lee is a music major and a a member of Jessup University’s Choir and Orchestra and Masterwork’s Choral, both traveling musical performance groups. Lee grew up in Colfax. Her father performed as a praise and worship band member with the Promise Keepers world tour and has performed with other well-known jazz artists around the world. Her mother plays the piano, sings and recently recorded a new CD. Her father is currently the Pastor at Celebration Christian Church in Auburn where Briana attends and her mother serves as worship pastor. “I grew up thinking it was perfectly normal to have your dad go and tour Indonesia with a worship band,” Lee said. “I come from a musical family; it’s a huge part of who we are and it is my passion.” A former student at the Los Angeles Music Academy, Lee decided to return to northern California for a medical procedure. While Lee recovered, she had an opportunity to decide exactly what direction she wanted her music career to go. “I knew that above all, I wanted to get my bachelor’s degree,” Briana said. “And I really felt that I needed to stay put in this area.” She subsequently enrolled at Sierra College and set her sights on one day transferring to Jessup. As she continued to recover from her surgery, Lee taught music with a program developed by her church known as “Celebration Cares,” which promotes music in schools. “Many area schools have had so many budget cuts that they aren’t able to provide students with a viable music program,” Lee said. “We saw the need and wanted to reach out.” She worked with students from EV Cain Middle School in Auburn where she was able to share her love of music with local youth. Last December, Lee attended a Christmas concert at Jessup, motivating her to continue to pursue attending the WJU. She auditioned for the university’s highly regarded music program in June with the goal of starting Jessup in the fall of 2013. Lee received a music and academic scholarship to attend Jessup and started school in August. “Coming to Jessup was a ‘God thing’ all the way,” Lee said. “I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for those scholarships or grants that I had no idea I was eligible for. I’m so thankful to Jessup’s donors.” The Colfax High School graduate and native also works at a recording studio in Roseville, teaches voice, piano and beginning flute, and at events in the Sacramento region. – Staff report