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Students sitting and talking outside Barry Arts Building.

M.S.G. Acoustic Blues Trio, Live at the Market on Monarch

The Market on Monarch, a new community market that takes place on Saturdays on ODU's Monarch Way, will host a series of musical performances during market hours. Alumna Resa Gibbs will perform Saturday, July 24 as part of the MSG Acoustic Blues Trio, so we caught up with Resa before her performance.

Resa Gibbs (Physical Therapy, '85) born in Washington, D.C. and grew up in Virginia Beach. Now living in Hampton, Gibbs lives there with life and music partner Jackie Merritt, and along with Miles Spicer, is one-third of the MSG Acoustic Blues Trio. With more than 20 years together, Gibbs is the vocalist and percussionist for the trio, whose name is made up of the first letter of each performer's last name.

"I hope folks will feel that we're truehearted, unpretentious and know that we really honor our mentors and care and greatly respect our historical influences," Gibbs said. "It's important to go back and get it while bringing it forward into the here and now. Like our history, we don't want to be forgotten."

Gibbs recently retired after 32 years as a physical therapist, allowing her to dedicate more energy to music and become a full-time caregiver for her mother, who she credits as one of her influences.

"Life and my surrounds are my influences," Gibbs said. "My folks, Billy and Barbara Gibbs were and are my main ones."

Gibbs said her parents gave her early exposure to all genres of music: they would "wake up to Leontine Price, Mahalia Jackson, Stevie Wonder and go to sleep listening to Pavarotti, Carmen McCray, and Prince." She also named local teachers as influences, including her 7th grade chorus teacher, Ruby Allen (Virginia Beach City Public School's first Black choral teacher) and Faye Whitlock at Bayside High School, saying they "got her" and introduced her to singers such as Karen Carpenter and Odetta, both of whom were known in part of their abilities to sing in deeper ranges.

Tell us what you've been up to since graduating from ODU. Four to five years ago, I was invited by conductor, Elizabeth Eccles to audition for The I. Sherman Greene Chorale (a semi-professional choral ensemble) founded in 1972 and was accepted. Of note: My father was a founding member; and to my surprise, I was reunited with Dr. Ruby Allen who's still singing and educating.

Since the pandemic, things are kind of regrouping. But I still feel there's a push, I feel a push right now and it can't be ignored. As a vessel, healer there is a responsibility to share this gift of voice and song in community. Singing for my ancestors...now singing with my ancestors... there's an evolution, I feel. Why have a voice?...but to share (it)...it's my responsibility. This is the voice of a people...my people... my ancestors who sang to refresh and survive. I have to sing. It's one of the reasons I'm here...connected with this world. I'm grateful... for the experiences and the lives, present & past, that have brought me to this point.

And I appreciate this opportunity.

Did your time at ODU influence your music now, and if so, how? At ODU, my roommates certainty helped me find balance between work and play. I remember jamming on Open Mic nights at the Rathskeller, singing harmony on Neil Young songs. One of my roommates, Desiree, was obsessed with him. I think she's making music in Nashville now. Anyway, despite their efforts, I graduated in 1985 with a BSPT (Bachelor of Science in Physical Therapy) where I remember professor and advisor George Maihafer, in particular, being a gentle and very positive force. I took a few post-grad courses in Sports Med, but pretty much jumped straight into my career. Now 36 years later, I sing, play percussion and share knowledge and hope with an Acoustic Blues Trio... that makes sense, right?

For more information on the MSG Acoustic Blues Trio, and their style of Piedmont blues, visit their website.