WEST SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Ten talented musicians at River City High School are headed to a New Orleans Jazz camp on scholarship. But this trip holds a deeper meaning for the students and their instructor as it was brought about by a great tragedy.
Felicia Weatherly teaches these students in one of the few traditional jazz classes in the country. She turned to music as a way of healing after her son Dylan committed suicide two years ago.
“I felt… it sounds cheesy… I felt my soul life. And I just aimed my clarinet at the heavens and felt like I was sending it to him,” Weatherly said.
Weatherly said sharing her love of music with her students has brought a deeper sense of healing.
“With suicide, there’s so many emotions that go with it. There’s a lot of self-blame, there’s a lot of confusion and a lot of guilt… I thought a lot of my students were going to drop my classes,” Weatherly said.
In support of her healing, money was raised by the “Sea Monkey Jazz Association” to send Weatherly to New Orleans.
And now she is able to use the scholarship money from a New Orleans-based DJ to help young musicians tap into emotions that aren’t always easy to express.
Senior Spencer Nyberg talked about those emotions.
“If you’re like going through a breakup or a relative died or something, you can just take out your instrument, and it just takes you away,” Nyberg said.
Zehner Hoffman plays guitar and piano and went to the Jazz Camp last year. Hoffman also knew Weatherly’s son Dylan. He said that performing in the second line was one of the most emotional things he’s ever participated in.
A second line performance is on the books again for this year, and it seems that medicinal music is feeding a new chapter of purpose in these musicians’ lives.