When I was 5, my Mom rented a saxophone for my Dad’s birthday. I remember sitting down and listening to him play Somewhere Over The Rainbow. The rest of my brothers had left the room, but I stayed, transfixed by the sound. Eventually he came over and asked if I wanted to try it myself – it was too big and heavy for me to hold, so he held it up for me. From that first note, I was hooked and knew that I had to play the saxophone.
I grew up in the 90’s in the Maryland/DC area, my house was full of all kinds of music, I remember listening to so much good music in those early years, old Motown records, Parliament Funkadelic, Cameo, Bill Withers and old jazz records. The sound of the saxophone always stood out to me and I found myself wanting to recreate the sounds that I heard from the recordings. After numerous hours of practice and study I eventually got better and people began to take notice. Shortly thereafter, I began formal lessons with a private teacher and eventually starting performing locally in the Maryland/DC area. Since then my musical journey has taken me to some exotic and wonderful places, and I’ve had some amazing support from people I love and respect.
In 2011 I transferred from Georgetown University, where I’d been studying English, to The Juilliard School in NYC to study Jazz Saxophone. Juilliard is an amazing place, so much history, the walls lined with true legends, you can’t help but feel honored and slightly overwhelmed by the greats that had walked those halls years before. In my first year several events collided and led to the privileged position I am now in. A chance to meet with Grammy Award nominated Christian Scott at a Donald Harrison concert led to me being flown to LA 6 months later for a recording session and here I am nearly 4 years later, playing saxophone in his group.
In the years when I was touring around the world with Christian Scott, I managed to save up enough money to move out from my dorm rooms at Juilliard and got my own apartment in Harlem. Harlem is a very special place, full of history and culture. Harlem is a melting pot of old and new, you can walk down 125th Street past the African drum circles, the Apollo Theatre, and even a hip-hop cypher. The aroma of foreign countries fill the air, the vibe of the place is both exciting and inspiring. Creatively there is so much inspiration in Harlem, and I think it has probably been the biggest influence on my music now.
Although my time at Juilliard taught me so much, creatively and musically it was kind of rigid, the history and structure of the place felt constrictive. I feel as though the direction I’m heading in now is more honest to who I am and embraces all of my musical influences.Ultimately, I would be unfulfilled if I only played straight ahead jazz because I would be neglecting an entire other side of my development which is R&B and Soul music. I’m finally getting back to what it is I’ve always wanted to do, which is to sing and play the saxophone and that’s a very fun and exciting thing.
I feel lucky to have been given so many breaks and opportunities in my career so far, but this is just the start, the future is exciting and finally feel like I can breath and write music from the heart that means something to me, and hoping that it’ll mean something to someone else too.