The first time you talk to Xavier Curry ’14 you won’t want the conversation to end. But the first time you hear him sing, you’ll wonder why you chatted so long instead of requesting a serenade.
Curry has had a strong presence in Dartmouth’s music community for the last four years, singing in the Aires a cappella group, Gospel Choir and Dartmouth Idol. Curry recorded his first album during his junior winter and is currently working on a second.
Though a cappella existed at Curry’s high school, he was not interested in the style until he heard the Dodecaphonics perform at a Washington, D.C., meet-up for accepted students. The talent and dedication of Dartmouth’s a cappella groups convinced him to audition his freshman fall, Curry said.
Though the process was rigorous — Curry remembers returning to his dorm room after the sun had risen the morning after auditions began — he was glad to join the Aires, which he describes as his main outlet for singing on campus.
Instead of going home after his freshman year to work a summer job or relax on a beach, Curry spent the break preforming with the Aires on NBC’s “The Sing-Off,” a musical competition for a cappella groups. Filming for the show took the entirety of the summer and exposed Curry to the ins and outs of show business, he said.
“It has shaped the way that I write, and the way that I sing and practice for the rest of my life,” Curry said.
Though he had only been singing with the group for a year at the time, Curry wrote three arrangements for the show, including a remix of R. Kelly’s “Ignition,” Aires musical director Nate Davis ’14 said.
“Xavier was so involved even as a freshman,” Davis said. “Right from the get-go, he really put his stamp down.”
In the show’s fast-paced work environment, songs were expected to be performance-ready in only a matter of hours. The Aires, Curry said, learned to “give 100 percent really fast” and always be prepared to perform.
Besides his membership in the Aires, Curry sings with the Dartmouth Gospel Choir and has participated in Dartmouth Idol twice. He placed third his freshman spring and among the top six finalists this year.
This past winter, he also toured with a group called Dartmouth Idol All-Stars, put together by Idol organizer Walt Cunningham. The group performed in Washington, D.C. and New York City over winter break.
Despite his passion for singing, Curry is not a music major. In an effort to expand his creative horizons, he pursued a major in theater instead.
“Theater gave me a new vocabulary to talk about art,” Curry said. “I love performing, and it was a great chance to learn a new set of skills.”
Curry’s immersion into theatrical arts combined with his singing ability earned him a part in Dartmouth’s production of “Rent” his freshman spring, which put him “on the map as a singer,” Curry said.
In order to jump-start a career in music, Curry spent an off-term his junior winter writing and producing his first album, “Escaping Dawn.” Released on iTunes in March, “Escaping Dawn” includes 10 tracks and follows a conceptual story. Curry said he is proud of the finished product.
By the end of spring, Curry plans to finish a second short album. He is taking a songwriting seminar this term and expects to use material from the class for the project, which Curry called more experimental and less concept-based than his previous effort.
With graduation approaching, Curry plans to move to New York and pursue a career in music, ideally through writing his own songs and performing with a band.
Davis said Curry has always been a dependable member of the Aires, someone who can foresee challenges and work ahead of time to troubleshoot obstacles. In his solos, Curry’s energy lights up a room, Davis said.
“Vocally, he is virtually flawless, a true seasoned performer,” Davis said.
Despite his talents, Curry remains humble about his accomplishments, longtime friend and fellow theater major Camille Van Putten ’14. She said she only found out via Facebook that Curry sang the national anthem at a 2012 re-election campaign event for President Barack Obama in Durham.
Van Putten said Curry has an upbeat stage presence, rich voice and thorough knowledge of pop sensibilities and aesthetics.
“Our artistic pursuits grow and change as we get older, but Xavier has so much to give,” Van Putten said. “I hope he keeps his artistic integrity over the next few years.”
THE FINAL WORD (with Xavier Curry ’14)
My favorite 1990s pop song is: “Say My Name” by Destiny’s Child.
My favorite Pop-Tart flavor is: blueberry.
If I could choose an actor to play me in a movie: it would be Forest Whitaker in a futuristic drama.