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OCC Student Performs at International Blues Festival

Marvel Carraway PhotoOlney Central College student Marvel Carraway performed in front of an international audience during the Costa Rica Blues Festival in Playa Potrero.

Carraway, a percussionist from Darlington, S.C., spent four days in the Central American nation playing alongside Texas blues singer Annika Chambers at both the blues festival and in Santa Cruz. The pair had previously worked together and when Chambers was looking for a U.S. band to join her in Costa Rica, requested Carraway.

“The first venue was at a theater and we had a really good crowd,” Carraway said. “The second was outside at the Costa Rica Sailing Center near the beach. It was an all-day event that started at 10 a.m. There were probably 3,000 to 4,000 people. At one point, Annika said, ‘We’re going to slow it down’ and the crowd shouted, ‘No, slow. Everything fast.’ We all laughed and played almost every song at a good dancing tempo. We played for 90 minutes and had two encores. We were tired when it was over.”

The trip was Carraway’s first outside the United States.

“I was amazed at the culture,” he said. “I enjoyed sight-seeing in the city and mountains and just walking around. It was one of those experiences where the pictures couldn’t do it justice. If you have the opportunity to go, you should do it. It was just a fun experience.”

Carraway began playing music at the age of 2, but says he didn’t get serious about it until high school.

“That’s when I had my first gig I got paid for,” he said. “I thought, ‘I can play drums and get paid for it.’ It made me want to be better. I started playing music at churches, school functions and concerts.”

After high school, Carraway moved to Greenville, S.C. He played with the rock project, Second Life, and recorded a gospel album with Second Nazareth. He was touring two years ago when he met jazz and blues musician Wade Baker.

The two remained in contact and when Baker joined OCC as Director of Bands he encouraged Carraway to enroll and pursue a degree.

“I wanted to make sure this was where I wanted to be,” Carraway said. “I had been out of school since I was 19 and I’m 27 now. It took some thought, because school really wasn’t on my mind. The big tipping point for me was that a degree would allow me to earn more money. It made me look at it a little more.”

Carraway began classes in January and is enjoying the experience.

“Everyone has welcomed me with opened arms,” he said. “A couple of the faculty even said if there was anything I needed to let them know. Everyone has been so friendly and it’s been enjoyable.”

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