Freshman’s band nominated for Chicago Music Award


The Instinct website

Young Success (L-R) Adem Dalipi, Donovan Lawnicki, Stacy Norris, Grady Caplin, and Aval Stanley Zaucha of the Instinct. The band met at the Fernando Jones Blues Camp in Chicago in 2016.

Adekemi Kasali, News Writer

Weekly band practices, traveling, and performing have become a part of freshman Stacy Norris routine, and now that has all paid off.

Norris and her band, The Instinct, have been nominated for a Chicago Music Award in the “Most Talented Teens” category.

The Chicago Music Awards, which will be held at the University of Chicago on March 18, honors musicians from across Chicago in numerous categories, such as Best Blues Entertainer, Pop International Entertainer of the Year, Best Spoken Word/Poet, etc.

The band met at the Fernando Jones Blues Camp in Chicago in 2016. In the two years since they’ve become a band, they’ve reached a great amount of success and they are just 14-17 years-old.

They have performed at numerous events; in 2017, they played the Chicago Blues Festival and also won the Westmont Battle of the Bands. This past January they performed in the Youth Showcase of the International Blues Challenge in Memphis. In addition, this summer they’ll be playing in Ontario, Canada at Bluesfest in Windsor.

Norris, who plays drums for the band, has been playing music for eight years.

“When I was younger my parents bought me a drum set, and I really started to like it,” Norris said. “My mom asked me if I wanted to take some lessons, and I went from there.”

The Instinct is influenced by classic and contemporary blues artists such as Bo Diddley, Albert King, BB King, Howlin’ Wolf, and Gary Clark Jr. Norris herself is influenced by numerous old school artists.

“I grew up listening to a lot of different genres that my dad listens to and plays in his spare time,” Norris said.  “I am kind of old school if you listen to my playlist on my phone. I listen to R&B people like James Brown, and I learned a lot of my beats from listening to his  drummer, Clyde Stubblefield. Some of my favorite artists are Prince and drummer Sheila E. I also love Earth Wind and Fire.”

Her brother, Nick Norris said that Stacy has a natural born talent for drumming, and that she has taken huge strides musically over the years.

“I used to think when my parents told me about her ability that they were biased because it was their kid,” Nick said. “I now see that she is a real professional drummer who can keep up with musicians two or three times her age.

Nick also said that there is a pretty cool dynamic in their family between athletes and musicians.

“Our family has always been about music or sports. My older sister and I are the athletes and Stacy and her little brother are the musicians,” Nick said.

Stacy has always been a shy person, but this doesn’t stop her from achieving her goals. She credits her music teacher Seth Whitson with helping her gain the confidence to play with others.

Whitson said that when he first began working with Stacy, getting one or two words out of her was a challenge.

As she and her band mates got to know each other, it was wonderful to see her open up to dialogue, express her opinions, and give us that priceless Stacy smile,” Whitson said. “Her confidence grew into the larger show of her talents very quickly. Her dedication and personality makes her the ideal bandmate alongside her talent.”         

Stacy has attended the Fernando Jones Blues Camp for 5 years. Since the camp’s start on the Southside of Chicago in 1989, it has expanded internationally. Cities such as London, Tokyo and even Havana have blues camps for students 12 to 18 years-old.         

Bluesman Fernando Jones, the camp’s founder and the Blues Ensemble director at Columbia College Chicago, invited Stacy and her band to perform at the Chicago Blues Festival. He said that it was an “easy choice” to invite them to play.         

“I was happy to see that they formed a band,” Jones said. “I have watched them develop as individuals and as a band. Stacy has always been shy, but she has also proven to be effective.”         

Young bands like the Instinct aren’t expected to be high class performers but Stefanie Camilli says otherwise.

“I saw them perform at the Blues Festival in Chicago, and there was a huge crowd of people; they were playing with bands that have been performing for years,” Camilli said. “The crowd just loved them and they were so engaged. It’s just crazy to see such young kids doing what people in their adulthood are doing.”

Over the years, Stacy’s family and friends have taken to calling her YCATS, the reverse spelling of her name.

“That’s what people mostly know me for, I have a different personality when I drum, so that’s how I got the nickname,” Stacy said.

In addition to playing the drums in her band, Stacy also participates in the H-F band and played on the Freshman Field Hockey team.

Stacy continues to grow as a person and an even better musician. She hopes that The Instinct becomes more professional and continues to travel as much as they can.

“Don’t let her introverted personality fool you, there is a confident individual back there when she gets behind those drums,” Nick said.