Jerome G. Brooks, Jr. ’02 chose Shenandoah because of the musical theatre program. Brooks felt that it wouldn’t limit his capabilities since he loved to act, sing and dance. “[Shenandoah is] well-rounded in the aspect of making one a complete triple threat,” said Brooks.
Some of the fondest memories Brooks’ had during his time at the university are being cast as Tom Robinson in Shenandoah Conservatory’s version of “To Kill A Mockingbird” his freshman year and his Two Person Senior Show. For the senior show, his father chartered a bus full of his family and friends from his hometown of Florence, South Carolina, to see him perform. He also cherishes the moment his grandparents got to see him graduate from Shenandoah, as he was the first one in the family to do so.
If it wasn’t for former Theatre Division Professor Mac Bozman, Brooks believes he wouldn’t have graduated. “[He] was my counselor and he was an angel who encouraged me not to drop out and move to New York at a time when I felt like as a black actor I wasn’t getting the same opportunities to showcase my talents in shows like my classmates,” said Brooks. Professor Emeritus of Choral Conducting Robert Shaffer and former Adjunct Assistant Professor of Music Lori Ann Horne Pendleton also aided him by helping to perfect his classical bass voice.
Brooks is an actor and musician. He is currently the 2023-24 Season Host of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center’s Chamber Music Beginnings and is the music director of the Tony Award Winner Tonya Pinkins’ Residency at Little Island in New York, New York, this summer. His work is expansive and he has performed and directed all over the world, including at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, LA’s Taste of Soul Festival, The Apollo, The Triad, Iguana Club, Sugar Bar, Symphony Space, AUDELCO Awards, and in Switzerland, Japan, Germany, Austria and Turkey. Some of the movies and television shows he has been a part of include “Art=(Love)2,” “POWER” and “Z: The Beginning Of Everything.” He is also a freelance composer and teaches music to youth in New York.
In 2022, Brooks was an Outstanding Musical Director AUDELCO Award Nominee for BLACK LOVE at Black Spectrum Theatre. He also received a City Artist Corps Grant for his musical “SOCIAL DISTANCE” in 2021 and received a grant from the Anna Sosenko Assist Trust in 2020.
One of the most rewarding experiences Brooks has had during his career was playing the organist/keyboardist for an episode in the upcoming third season of the FX Networks drama series “POSE,” where he performed with all of the celebrities on the show. He also enjoyed getting to fulfill his dream as an entertainer while traveling the world.
Brooks believes his music theatre degree from Shenandoah prepared him for his career because he was able to book television commercials, which ultimately enabled him to join the Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists and Actors Equity Association. His piano training and playing for the university’s Harambee Gospel Choir prepared him for soulful theatrical original musicals.
Brooks’ advice to students is: “Don’t give up.”