Former beauty queen Jade Simmons is now a pianist tackling teen suicide through her music. Courtesy Photo
Success, for pianist Jade Simmons, once meant being on the biggest concert tours and performing on the largest stages. But for the Houston native, her goal has changed because of work with issues around teenage suicide.
I now ask am if I making a lasting impact. Is every day on Earth counting for something? I feel that you are a failure if you havenâ€™t found your purpose,â€ said Simmons, 31. A former Miss Illinois who admits to being an overachiever as a child, Simmons will perform in a free program on Feb. 22 at the National Academy of Science in Northwest in D.C. The 3 p.m. program will be in the auditorium, and seating is on a first-come, first-served basis.
A native of Charleston, S.C., Simmons is a graduate of Northwestern University and Rice University, where she obtained a masterâ€™s degree and studied with Jon Kimura Parker. As a Miss America contestant in 2000, she performed Chopinâ€™s Etude in c-sharp minor, Op 10, No. 4 before a live television audience.
Bur for the musician who regularly lectures on teen suicide, Simmons said the topic of teen suicide prevention is one that is worthy of receiving attention.
â€œIt is the third cause of death among young teens,â€ said Simmons who adopted the issue as her platform when serving as Miss Illinois.
As Miss Illinois, Simmons spoke to Congress on mental health funding and was present for a national strategy session to prevent teen suicide.
Neither of Simmonsâ€™ parents were professional musicians, but she played the clarinet and viola in school, with an affinity for percussion music.