Through a tragedy, Amanda Jacobs discovered her life’s calling.
A childhood friend had died in a terrible accident. Months and even years later, the grief still stung. An accomplished pianist, Jacobs went to bed praying for the boy’s family back home in Macon, still grappling with the loss of their son.
“I wanted to do something to help the family,” Jacobs said. “The next morning, I woke up and had this idea for a musical of Daniel and the lions, about how emotions can eat us alive like lions.
“The only story I knew of somebody surviving lions was Daniel, so I created a metaphorical musical play called ‘Daniel’ that explores the concepts of what we do when something bad happens and how do we survive the emotional attacks of our own lions and how do we tame them? The music was just there and I started writing it down.”
The musical marked the beginning of a new journey for Jacobs. Until that time, she considered herself a performer and aspired to be an acclaimed concert pianist.
During this time, Jacobs met Lindsay Warren Baker, a theater student at the time who would become Jacobs’ close friend and collaborator. The two have combined their talents to compose and produce numerous works, including an adaptation of Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” that has drawn critical acclaim.
Wesleyan College, where Jacobs received her undergraduate degree in 1984, will host a performance of the adaptation on April 11 as part of Wesleyan’s Morning Music Club 100th Anniversary Celebration.
“It was through an accident and a terrible tragedy,” Jacobs recalled of her first steps as a composer. “It has brought me into an incredible world that I wake up to and love and enjoy and find very fulfilling.” Jacobs splits her time between New York and the West Coast, where her husband is stationed.
Jacobs and Baker continue to collaborate while also teaching and pursuing independent projects.
She remains grateful for the dramatic, unexpected shift her journey took in the late 1990s.
“If we compare our life to a ceramic pot, we shape it a particular way, (but) if that gets shattered or cracked, we shouldn’t weep or mourn about what we think our life should’ve been,” she said. “We need to re-build and re-shape that pot to be bigger. That is what has led me beyond and into something that is equally as great if not geater than what I ever could’ve imagined for myself. That’s what’s so cool about it. Our world can be so much greater outside these cracks.”