A Lawrence musician performs, teaches and serves as her own manager.
Misty Dawn Warren's life has always been about playing music.
As a young girl, she was introduced to music by her father, and she soon found herself practicing guitar and voice and performing as often as three to five times weekly.
"Pretty much my life was concerts and music lessons," Warren said.
She admits to getting by initially on talent and desire, but that all changed when she started playing the harp at age 10.
Falling in love with the instrument, she willing immersed herself into developing her skills. It's been several years since she started playing, and her passion for the instrument has only grown over that time.
"Basically, the harp is an incredible, beautiful instrument and it sounds enchanting," she said. "People really respond to it."
She attended the prestigious Interlochen Center for the Arts, a private fine arts institute based in Michigan. Every year the academy auditions thousands of high school students but only accepts a few hundred for its arts programs.
Warren made the cut and spent her high school years balancing an accelerated college-based academics program with intense arts training that involved hours of practice and classes interspersed with weekly concerts throughout the United States, including a performance for the Mozart bicentennial celebration at New York City's Lincoln Center.
Her academy experience helped Warren win a place in the music program at Arizona University, where she studied harp with Carrol McLaughlin, a renowned touring artist who specializes in jazz, pop and classical harp.
"It was incredible," Warren said. "It's one of the finest departments in the world. McLaughlin dedicated her life to us and tried to give us the experience we needed to be very well-rounded. It wasn't focused only on orchestra and classical music."
McLaughlin made sure the 22 harp players in the program learned every aspect of the music industry. The group toured, playing an eclectic music mix that included pop and jazz material.
They also formed an ensemble called Harpfusion and recorded two CDs, "Desert Reflections" and "The Best Gift." Both CDs are available at the Hoffman Harp Gallery, 1341 Mass.
While recording the CDs, Warren learned to produce and arrange music and operate all the recording equipment. She also was trained in marketing, promotion and other aspects of the business side of music industry.
Warren performs, teaches private lessons and works as her own business manager. She is vice president of the Kansas City Lyra Chapter of the American Harp Society, and she promotes workshops within area school districts.
Her main goal is to showcase the harp's versatility.
"I try to include as much pop music as possible, along with some jazz," Warren said. "People don't associate the harp with pop music, but it can be anything, and it can be several different things."
Warren has a harp performance planned for next month at the Lawrence Public Library. For more information, call 331-2716.
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