Dr. David Klee Retires from BVU 2021

Hannah Kramer

Exuberant music has the capacity to connect all sorts of generations and all kinds of people. One person who understands this more than maybe anyone has made Buena Vista University their home for the last 20 years.

“There is no greater joy than playing an instrument or singing,” said Dr. David Klee, Buena Vista University’s Professor of Music and Director of Jazz Studies/ Music Production & Technology.

With the 2021 spring semester narrowing to a close, for Dr. David Klee this is his last semester at BV ever. The profound musician and professor has been a part of the Beaver family for over fifth-teen years and has been in love with music for much longer than that.

Courtesy of Dr. David Klee

“I went to The Gasparilla parade in Tampa, Florida where I was growing up and I saw this beautiful parade and all the bands… that next week I found out they were starting band at my school, so I told my parents I wanted to play the flute. And they said, ‘why on earth would you want to play the flute? Why don’t you want a trumpet?’ and I said, ‘that’s what I’m hearing, that’s what I want to do.’ So, they took me to the music store and the guy at the music store said the same thing. He said, ‘why do you want to play the flute? You’re a guy’ and I said, ‘that’s what I’m hearing, that’s what I want to play.’ So, they had me try all the instruments and when I tried the flute I played, and they shut up and bought me the flute. I’ve been playing the flute ever since,” Klee chuckled.

Throughout his childhood, Klee played the flute and then decided to attend college with his beloved instrument in hand. He attended The University of South Florida for a year and a half before quitting to solely focus on his passion for music. He started by playing in night clubs around the Tampa Bay area. Eventually, he had the chance to go on the road and tour the east coast, furthering his music career. Soon after, the Florida native joined RCA records and toured across the expanse of the United States with a band by the name of Razzy Bailey.

“I got to work with the keyboard player for The Rolling Stones, I’ve gotten to work with one of the drummers for the Allman Brothers Band -I got to work with a lot of musicians like that,” Klee went on to elaborate, “I backed up a lot of groups, where at the time, I didn’t know they were going to make it big. Uh, the band Alabama, backed them up, I got to play with them. I’ve toured with the Barnum & Bailey Circus band. I’ve done that, it’s been fun.”

Throughout and even after touring, Klee was able to go back to school to obtain his bachelor’s degree from Mercer College, his masters from the University of South Carolina, and his doctorate degree from the University of Georgia. Eventually, he found himself at BV’s fair threshold.

“Well, [in] 1998 I completed my doctorate in flute performance, so I started looking for a full-time college job, and I uh got the position Director of Bands at Peru State College in Nebraska. So, that’s what brought me up to this part of the world. I was there a couple of years, it was a great job, and then BV advertised a newly opened position to be the Director of Jazz. So, I interviewed and got accepted. I’ve been at BV now, this is my 20th year,” Klee said.

Courtesy of Dr. David Klee

His career at BVU has led to a multitude of diverse experience’s.

“They allowed me to develop the jazz program. Which I did, and we’ve had some pretty good jazz ensembles over the years… I was in about my fourth or fifth year of teaching and uh some of the guys figured out my background. I was a fulltime professional musician, I had this recording technology, and I had this expertise, and they begged me if I could start some kind of a degree program with recording technology. Well, I didn’t know if BV would be open to that because that’s pretty far out there, but I uh, wrote it up and presented it to the faculty and it passed, and the degree started. And the BV music production program has been around now for oh about 15 years,” Klee continued.

The versatile musician turned professor plans to focus on his music now and is retiring at the end of this semester.

“It’s been a very enjoyable 20 years at BV. I may be retired from BV but I’m not retiring from music. I’m going to go out- I’ll be fairly close to Omaha and Des Moines. So, I’ll be doing a lot of preforming, as well as developing my YouTube channel. So, I’m going to be busy,” Klee said.

He will be busy, but he will be loving every minute of it, “Music is music, as long as it’s steering me,” Klee pats his heart, “right here, I’m good.”