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January 2011

Music education sets Avila grad off on
rock 'n' roll dream

Corey Vitt '08
Music Composition

Corey Vitt, lead guitarist for Kansas City-area rock band the Beautiful Bodies, is calling from his "day job" working in customer service for H&R Block, the world-famous tax preparation business. If that sounds like the prototypical non sequitur, well, when you're a young, up-and-coming musician trying to gain a foothold in today's recording industry, you find different ways to make ends meet.

And yet, it all seems to make sense when considering the path Vitt has taken to get to this point in his 24-year-old life. Take, for instance, the time he spent furthering his education at Avila University. He came to Avila with no intent on studying music. Yet, in the end, he credits the university and its music department with giving him a set of skills he uses constantly in pursuit of his rock and roll dream.

"When I came to Avila, I was thinking of theater," Vitt said. "I performed in a production of Into the Woods at Avila, and I sang in it. That was the first time I really thought I could do music."

In his third semester, he switched from theater to music composition and completed his bachelor of arts degree in December 2008.

If he hadn't been attending Avila, Vitt said he never would have made the switch out of theater.

"I really liked the smaller classes," he said. "I was intimidated by music. I'd never had any formal training. I couldn't read music at all.

"If I'd gone somewhere like UMKC, I would've never majored in it because I was starting from behind. (At Avila), I wasn't as nervous playing catch-up."

Vitt said he especially threw himself into music theory and related classes. He expressed specific thanks to three of his professors – Amity Bryson, Robert Foulk and Ben Meade.

"I tend to look at music more analytically than other people," he said. "That's what I really enjoyed."

It also was that third semester at Avila that Vitt joined his first band, when he was just 20. He was doing what a lot of students/aspiring musicians do – working several odd jobs between going to class and practicing his music – when a friend invited him to play guitar in a band called Evening Gray, which had some success playing local and regional shows in the Kansas City area and surrounding states. He later played in another band, Katlyn Conroy and the Wild and Wooly, which won a battle of the bands sponsored by a Lawrence, Kan. radio station.

While at Avila, Vitt also made friends with Luis Arana, who played bass for the Beautiful Bodies. During his final semester, Arana asked Vitt if he'd like to play guitar with his band, which features dynamic and talented lead singer Alicia Solombrino.

"They were pretty established, so definitely, I was psyched to play with them," Vitt said.

Since joining his new band, the Beautiful Bodies have supported such famous acts as Nine Inch Nails, Jane's Addiction, Smashing Pumpkins and Paramore. In December, 2010, they were part of 96.5 The Buzz's "Night The Buzz Stole Christmas" at a packed Midland Theater in Kansas City with My Chemical Romance, "definitely the biggest audience we'd ever played for," Vitt said. The band currently has a song, titled "You're a Risk," available on iTunes.

Through it all, from playing with the Beautiful Bodies to writing his own original material, Vitt said he pulls from the knowledge he gained at Avila.

"As far as writing my own stuff …," he said. "Knowing theory, I know what to try and when. I can recognize patterns and what key we're in.

"I don't think I'd be in the position I'm in if I didn't receive the music education that I have." AU


Media Contact: Bob Luder, 816.501.2434