Oskaloosa Native Jay Zimmerman Awarded Key To The City

Oskaloosa Mayor Dave Krutzfeldt (left) presents Jay Zimmerman (right) with the key to the City of Oskaloosa.

Oskaloosa Mayor Dave Krutzfeldt (left) presents Jay Zimmerman (right) with the key to the City of Oskaloosa.

Oskaloosa, Iowa – It’s summertime, and the heat is on, especially as dozens of people packed into ‘The Alley’ to recognize one of its own.

Ann Brouwer, Alley KADTS, welcomed everyone to the “Legacy of Excellence” award ceremony that was being held in ‘The Alley’, which was created in the alley next to Smokey Row in 2016..

Part of the vision for ‘The Alley’ was to preserve the heritage of Oskaloosa while building the future.

One way the heritage has been preserved is by signs, or Legacy of Excellence signs, that are seen up and down the alley. “These signs represent amazing people who have lived and been a part of our community, and then went on to achieve national and even international recognition,” said Brouwer.

There is currently 20 Legacy of Excellence signs in the Alley, and of those, 4 are alive today.

The youngest of those recipients is Jay Zimmerman, who was in the Alley on Friday night.

Oskaloosa Mayor Dave Krutzfeldt spoke about the many accomplishments Zimmerman has achieved in his lifetime.

Zimmerman, during the 1970’s and 1980’s sang in the Oskaloosa community theater musicals, at William Penn, and local cantatas.

During his teen years, Zimmerman played classical piano for social events, along with organ, oboe, and saxophone in the city band. Zimmerman also conducted his own arrangements for the Oskaloosa Junior High Marching Band.

After high school, Zimmerman moved to New York to become a performer, and found a way to begin studying musical theater, and booked his first show while living in a YMCA. “From there, he started working with the Broadway writers,” said Krutzfeldt.

Zimmerman was impacted by the attacks of September 11, 2001. His home was about 1200 feet from Ground Zero, and he and his family were temporarily homeless afterward.

Zimmerman had had some hearing loss, but the attack of 9/11 resulted in him being nearly completely deaf. “But he didn’t let that stop his career,” said Krutzfeldt.

Zimmerman, like others who have gone deaf, have an auditory memory. “They can look at a musical score and hear the music playing in their head, but if you’re deaf and writing music, you don’t have that immediate confirmation that the audience is hearing the sounds you intend to create. You have to work harder. You have to have a great network of folks to work with, and Jay did all of that,” Krutzfeldt explained.

“Now, he’s known as ‘Broadway’s Beethoven’. He’s a composer, author, speaker, performer, and visual music artist who uses live performance and robotics and accessibility technology to create unique experiences,” said Krutzfeldt.

Zimmerman’s works have been featured in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Playbill, Broadway World, Voice of America, WNYC, BBC, and National Public Radio.

Zimmerman has worked to bring wireless captioning to Broadway and the Lincoln Center and helped create conceptual master planning for the World Trade Center Memorial and redevelopment.

Zimmerman thanked his father Norman, and others for encouraging him during his youth.

Zimmerman thanked his father Norman, and others, for encouraging him during his youth.

Zimmerman is now helping to create a visual music curriculum for the deaf, in collaboration with Columbia University.

“We here in Oskaloosa are proud to have known Jay when he was a child. Perhaps we had a chance to encourage him at an early age. Most importantly, we know that talents like his are a rare thing, and our community stands ready to encourage it wherever we see it,” said Krutzfeldt.

“So up until today, Jay has received many kinds of recognition, but he has not received a City of Oskaloosa key,” added Krutzfeldt.

With that, Krutzfeldt awarded the solid brass key that was crafted by CLOW Valve, and a poster of Zimmerman’s “Legacy of Excellence” award in The Alley.

“Hello, Oskaloosa!”, said an excited Zimmerman, with a cheer coming up from those gathered.

Zimmerman thanked the community, “I wish my mother could have lived to see this, but I’m happy that my dad is here with my bonus mom Elaine.”

“I want to thank everybody who gave me a little bit of encouragement and a kind word. I know that when you’re a kid, it’s kind of different. You usually end up with a target on your back, or a kick me sign or something,” said Zimmerman. “So those little moments of you encouraging me and supporting me really meant an awful lot.”

“Even when I was running around town on my banana bike dressed as Batman,” joked Zimmerman.

“There are so many amazing people here, who made Oskaloosa sort of like this oasis of opportunity for me,” said Zimmerman.

Zimmerman thanked Randy Wright for creating “this safe space for all of us drama nerds.”

“No person I can thank more, actually, than my father, Norman,” said a grateful Zimmerman, who explained that his father would support him unconditionally, and encouraged his dreams.

“I think what I really learned here, and I hope that all of us who went to school together kind of learned, is the power of imagination and transformation, because you can transform an old basketball court into a theater, and you can transform old board into a circus ring. You can transform a dirty old alley into a beautiful space, and apparently, you can transform a goofy theater nerd [inaudible] like myself into a person worthy of the key to the city. So I really appreciate it,” said Zimmerman in closing.

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Posted by on Jul 7 2018. Filed under Local News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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