What do you do at Walker West?
Born in Memphis, raised in Detroit, been in Minneapolis since 1984.
Favorite Walker West memory/experience?
My favorite memory was my visit to a recital after the summer program. Seeing all the students performing everything they had learned in such a small period of time was so impressive to me that it brought me to tears. I thought that Walker|West was doing such a great job introducing all of those children to performing music.
My musical influences range from jazz singer like Bessie Smith, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, and Cab Calloway to singers like Marion Anderson, who opened the door for people of color in classical opera. I also can’t forget instrumentalists like Charlie Parker and Miles Davis, and big bands led by Duke Ellington and Count Basie. I don’t have enough time or room to list all of my influences because there are just too many.
There are too many to name, but a few that stand out to me are John Coltrane & Johnny Hartman, Nancy Wilson & Cannonball Adderely, and Roberta Flacks First Take.
Why is music education so important?
Music education is important mentally, physically, and spiritually. Music opens us up to the beat of the world because its universal. If you can’t speak verbally, you can still communicate through music. Music is the pathway to the soul. Musicians and artists were put here to keep the world from falling apart and to continue to bring all people and cultures together. Musicians are God’s special angels. Through education, the beat goes on.
Advice to young musicians?
Keep listening, loving, and playing. Most of all, keep sharing music with the world, for the world would truly cease to exist without music.