Jazz, Spirituals & Hymns

Pastoral Ministry through Music



A passion for intergenerational music and ministry, for traditional lyrics,
for contemporary jazz arrangements, and a beautiful marriage of sacred words and songs.

The jazz trumpeter steps up to the microphone. Light outlines his horn. With closed eyes, he begins. The crowd settles, quiet and reflective, as the tune hangs in the air. A saxophones bellow enters in, then the basss moan, finally the pinpricks of the piano, and the steady rhythm of the drums. Its Sunday, the song is Amazing Grace, and its time for church.

Dawn Holt Lauber is an ordained minister, a recording artist, and a professional musician. She has served as a worship pastor and as a chaplain, and currently is an associate pastor leading intergenerational ministries for the local church. 

In her own words, Dawn shares about her path to pastoral ministry through her music: “My musical odyssey began at the Hartt School of Music at the University of Hartford, where I gravitated to Bach, Mozart and oratorio, and sometimes to the jazz department. The two genres collided for me at The Riverside Church of New York City (my first church job) where I sang Duke Ellington’s Sacred Songs. Ellington himself regarded these compositions as his best. 

Moving to Chicago, I discovered Dave Brubeck’s vast sacred music collection, and William Russo and the Chicago Jazz Ensemble. Russo, a mentor of mine, needed a classical soprano for some of his compositions. It was an opportunity to sing high D’s and challenging contemporary jazz passages, and still swing with Ellington’s sacred tunes.

Through these musical experiences, the Lord led me to seminary. The pivotal moment in my vocational journey happened after I sang on the worship team for a large national women’s conference. My pastor called me into his office and offered me the position of Director of Worship Arts. It was quite unexpected and not a job I was even looking for. In that moment, I felt the Holy Spirit wash over me and say, “do this job.” I realized this was more than an invitation to a job; it was a calling to a new vocation, a new path in life.”

Hailed as “exquisite” by Howard Reich of The Chicago Tribune for the world premiere performance of William Russo’s Jubilatem with the Chicago Jazz Ensemble, Lauber also performed with the CJE in Russo’s Chicago Suite 2 and Duke Ellington’s Sacred Concerts.

The soprano first performed Ellington’s Sacred Concerts at The Riverside Church of New York City which ignited an interest in sacred jazz. She reprised her role as soloist in Ellington’s Sacred Concerts at Wheaton College, in honor of the work’s 50th anniversary. 

On the big screen, Lauber plays the role of Carol Davis in “The Rocket,” the 2018 inspirational sports film by director Richard Blake.  She has performed her music for numerous benefit concerts including for World Vision, World Bicycle Relief, the Jimmy Carter Foundation, and the Student Global AIDS Campaign.

As a songwriter, she is at work on a new recording of sacred music based on scripture, following four other solo albums: Joy (original sacred jazz compositions), Everlasting (jazz hymns and spirituals, featured on the Sounds of Gospel Network), Heavenly (American jazz standards), and Something Borrowed, Something Blue (a collection of wedding music with Albany Records). 

Other solo appearances include Chicago Humanities Festival, Midwest premiere of Wynton Marsalis’ Abyssinian 200, Mendelssohn’s Elijah with Conductor John Nelson, and at The Riverside Church in Bach’s Magnificat, Mozart’s C Minor Mass, Faure’s Requiem, and Kodaly’s Missa Brevis among other classical sacred works.

A Wheaton (IL) College graduate with a BA in English Literature, Lauber received her MM in Vocal Performance from the Hartt School of Music at the University of Hartford and her MDiv from North Park Theological Seminary. Her poetry has appeared in various anthologies and in The Christian Century magazine.

The Calling.
The Holy Spirit
"Do this job"