UT's School of Music offers eight choral ensembles for students with a passion for music. UT Singers is one of these that performs a blend of popular music with an emphasis on vocal jazz.

The jazz choir will perform tonight in the Natalie L. Haslam Music Center at 8 p.m.

Wendel Werner is in his 14th year as the director of UT Singers and made note of the extreme transformation the ensemble has accomplished over the years.

"It was originally formed in 1949 as a choir that did only sacred music, so obviously the group has gone through a bit of a transformation," Werner said. "I don't have any issue with calling it a jazz choir, even though you will hear other styles of music during a concert."

UT Singers is made up of current members David Buchanan, Jessie Anne Compton, Stephen Eubanks, Clark Herd, Kelsey Keny, Ashley Kinser, Kelsey Landis, Chris Martin, Hayley McGinnis, Sara Beth Nelius, Garrison Stallings and Camille Winton.

Martin, freshman in computer science, is one of the newest members of UT Singers and said he has enjoyed his experience with the ensemble during his first year at the university.

"Being so small, we're oddly compatible," Martin explained. "We've got a bunch of really different people. From the chill Kelsey Landis to the super-energetic Camille Winton, it's a really good group of people."

Ashley Kinser, senior in global studies, has been with UT Singers since her freshman year.

She said she believes the group brings together people from all different lifestyles and backgrounds to connect through their love of music.

"The group has a mature, collegiate sound with a balanced blend," Kinser said. "The group performs a variety of popular tunes with an emphasis on a jazz style of singing and is a group that will develop not only in musicianship but personality and confidence."

After four years in the ensemble, Kinser said she attributed many of her skills to her participation in UT Singers.

"Being a part of UT Singers has not only challenged me musically but as a group member and an individual person," Kinser said. "I am able to look back and see my progression from freshman to senior year and be proud of the work I have accomplished, the musical qualities and tools I have gained and the overall person I have become.

"I have no doubt I would be a different person today had I not been a part of UT Singers."

Members of UT Singers typically work as recruiters and perform at area high schools. Recently, the group headlined a concert at the Tennessee Theatre in which the audience was made up entirely of former UT Singers, from 1949 to more recent members.

UT Singers has been recognized by the State General Assembly as "Tennessee's Musical Ambassadors."

"UT Singers has had so many members through the years," Kinser said, "and each person is so important and vital to the group and will always be a part of the music."

All UT choirs are open for auditions to all students, regardless of major or previous choral experience.