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Jonesboro musician conquers Carnegie Hall

By Trina Trice

For Rachel Askew, performing music is much more than getting notes out of an instrument.

Music is a gift that she feels obligated to nurture and share with the world.

And share with the world she did when she participated in the 2003 National University Wind Ensemble as the principle bassoonist in a performance at Carnegie Hall in New York City.

"It was a very enjoyable experience," she said. "It was a really beautiful hall. I've never played in a hall that sounded like it before. It was generally designed for pianists and vocalists, but the sound was good. I never thought I'd be able to play at Carnegie Hall. It was an honor."

Askew's mother Bobbie Askew isn't surprised by her daughter's passion for music.

"She's always loved music," the mother said. "It's just part of her soul. She has a gifted talent from God. Just being able to perform and understand music, it's just a gift she has. When she plays (bassoon), it sounds like she's singing through it. It's hard to explain. It's part of her?body and soul."

Askew, music education major at Mercer University, has spent most of her 23 years learning and or playing music, either with an instrument or her voice.

Her first musical experience "started at 3 when we would sing in church," Askew said. "My mom sang an alto line into my ear to help me harmonize. I was also in the children's choir?I've been taking some kind of music lesson since I was 8-years-old."

While in the Mt. Zion High School marching and concert bands Askew played the euphonium, a brass instrument that looks like a smaller version of the tuba, in addition to playing the bassoon in the Atlanta Youth Wind Symphony.

"The euphonium I picked up so that I could play in marching band," Askew said.

When asked if her performance at Carnegie Hall has been the highlight of her musical life, Askew said, "The fact that I got to play there was great. The places I get hired at to play in?the groups I play with really need a bassoon player and that's fulfilling. It's really fulfilling to play with someone who really needs your help."

Askew's accomplishments are made even sweeter, since she had a heart valve replaced while in high school, her mother said.

Since recovering from the last of two surgeries, Askew has competed on the Miss America pageant circuit. One of her hopes is to make it to the Miss Georgia pageant; an even bigger hope is to raise awareness of organ and tissue donation.

"The positive thing is that this has brought her to help people," Mrs. Askew said.