Nyack College has a plethora of personalities. Nyackers come from all different backgrounds and bring their stories with them. Each one has a passion, a gift, and a desire to see God’s plan for their life be fulfilled. Nyack Unfiltered is a series of interviews I am conducting featuring students on the Manhattan campus who not only I, but others, believe will do (and currently are doing) great things for God.
The next interview in the series is Noël Simoné Wippler. Noël is a musician who loves using her gift of music to bring the utmost glory to God. It was a pleasure interviewing her.
What’s your major?
Noël: My major is vocal performance.
What do you specialize in?
Noël: Jazz, R&B, Funk, Classical…
How did you hear about Nyack’s School of Music?
Noël: I heard about Nyack on Facebook, actually. A friend of mine shared a Facebook post from who I now know as Professor Damien Sneed who asked if anyone was interested in getting their degree in Music – and scholarships were available. So I responded and Damien Sneed told me to come to Nyack that day and bring sheet music if I had any. So I had my interview and an audition and they told me I got a full scholarship. I was like, “Wow, I can’t believe…” [But] it was a Christian college so I was thinking to myself, ‘What is going to happen. My lifestyle right now is not Christian at all.’ [It’s] so funny how God just straight up blessed me abundantly and let me know that this is the next step. So I just took it, and I’m here today.
When was that?
Noël: That was 2013 Fall. And school had already started actually! It’s funny because at that same time I did an audition for a theater company in Florida, and they told me no so I was a little sad. So when I heard about this school I was like yeah okay, I’m gonna do it. And when I told the school yes, I literally got a phone call 10 minutes later from the stage director in Florida. He said, “Hey, we can’t get over your voice. We kept hearing you singing this part. We think you’d be great for this role. Would you be interested?” I was like, “Yeah, when is it?” He was like, “We’ll fly you down tomorrow. You have free housing and food.” And I was like, “I literally just signed my application to go to school to get my degree in 4 years. Literally like 10 minutes ago.” He was like, “Ah man! Only if I had called you 10 minutes earlier!” I was like, “Yeah [Laughs]! I would’ve been down there!” But [even after that] I still felt like [Nyack] was it.
So you had peace about it?
Noël: Yeah, I do have peace about it. I was able to meet so many beautiful people. My life has completely changed, and I have a fullness in my life because of Christ.
Who were you before Nyack and has it changed you at all?
Noël: Yes… I wouldn’t say that I’m better or worse, but I would say that I’m more aware now. Aware of God, aware of my blessings, aware of time, aware of my actions. Before, when I started the school, I was drinking a lot. I wanted to be this superstar. I was thinking of different ways to get there, like shortcuts. I just knew when the school came about that it was to be fortifying for my soul. I knew it. I said, “This is a present [that] God has given me to strengthen my relationship [with Him]. My friend Curtis, Curtis Crum the 3rd, passed away a month and a day to this day. Curtis and so many other people at Nyack gave me salt. They gave me a passion to observe God more. Before, I was so rebellious. I didn’t want to be a Christian. I didn’t want to be in a Christian environment at all. I was like it’s fake, the people are hypocritical, they talk about you – which they do [Me: Yep, they do!] [But] I’m here, and I’m realizing that it’s not just a Christian environment. Being a part of this environment has made me realize how we should cherish each other. Even in Chorale when we’re singing the worship music, it’s just [a really loving environment.]
So, it’s affected your music?
Noël: Yes, my music has changed because I put Jesus in the front now. And I noticed how many people gravitate towards me because I did that. It was really surprising to me [because] when you make that decision in a secret place other people can sense it even if they’re not Christian.
You’re supposed to graduate in May. What do you want to do after?
Noël: Full-time musician. Be a professional, be a businesswoman. [I also want to] really push my music out and record.
Do you have any favorite memories at Nyack?
Noël: Yes, being in West Side Story, I was Anita. It was with Curtis. He played Bernardo. It was so great because it really challenged us. We thought, ‘How are we going to get into these characters?’ I’m really proud to have shared that experience with him and with everyone in the cast. PJ, Amanda, Bri, Betsaida, Amos… so many more people… Dana Talley and Dr. Turk… and my father did the artwork. He painted the whole set. Our orchestra, Prof. Margrit, Dr. Sue Talley, Darryl Jordan… also the kids that were in the show. It was just really great. Another moment was performing at Lincoln Center. That was really great because it has always been a dream of mine – just always seeing it growing up. I sang [there] with Chorale and did a solo.
Do you have a favorite class?
Noël: I have Acting for Musical Stage, that’s a favorite class. Then there’s Opera Theatre… Chorale… Jazz… I like all of my Ear Training… all of my Theory classes… all of my classes… they all challenge me to be better.
What’s one thing that you have learned from either a professor, a class, or a fellow student that you think helped you?
Noël: Well, for one thing I’m always late. I learned that in Chorale. It was always 15 minutes, 10 minutes, 5 minutes [after class]. It would never be there when class started. Even if it was 2 minutes. Why am I always late? That challenged me. Time management. We have dominion over time. We shouldn’t let time run over us. And also, just being able to share moments with people, and just feeling rubbed spiritually. Sometimes it’s like, ‘Ew what’s that feeling, but it’s actually God just using other people to shape you. It’s actually better to feel like that than to feel alone. I’d rather be put into a position and feel like, ‘Ah, I’m being pushed. I’m being shaped into something’ than to feel like, ‘What am I doing with my life?’ And I feel like so many people at Nyack have really lifted me up to be the person I am today. It’s because of their kindness, and a lot of people pray for you. I’ve never been in an environment where so many people pray for you.
They just pray in general. Walking down the halls there are just groups of people praying.
Noël: Yeah! And praising. Like on the Music floor people are just singing or pulling out a guitar or stomping on the floor making mad noise. But yeah. Everything I’m learning right now, through my teachers and through my classmates, besides learning about timeliness and learning about how to love one another, I learned that I must love others – relentlessly, even if I don’t want to. And because of that I learned how to be patient with others.
Noël’s final message rings true for me, considering that I am currently on a journey learning how to actively love others and myself. So thank you Noël for that, and hopefully it rang true with someone else, too. Also, thank you Noël for letting me interview you!