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In every aspect of our lives we are affected by music. This realization alone is an obvious indication that artists have the power to unite people of all walks of life. As artists we need to abandon the idea of creating music for other musicians and adopt the role as musical servants for our audience; I want my music to inspire my audience. I love Jazz and strongly believe it has the power to affect my community in a positive way. When the voice isn’t able to speak up, music is. It can challenge ideals and solve problems, but the hurtle is just getting people to listen.
First of all, I was raised in a household where Jazz was the music of choice. Studying the language of Jazz soon followed. In eighth grade my brother gave me my first Ella Fitzgerald album. At the end of every song Ella thanked her audience and the sincerity in her tone made it clear to me that she was really doing it all for them. When going to a high school with hundreds of talented kids your age it is very hard to think about anyone other than yourself. I remember always trying to prove myself, rating myself against other singers, and trying to impress the other musicians and teachers. Up until my third year of high school the audience never entered my mind. Every note Ella Fitzgerald sang was for her audience. She wanted to relate to her fans; to please them any way musically possible, and she did. I feel that once the idea of impressing other musicians is replaced with a genuine need to please the audience, then affecting your society soon follows. Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, and Carmen McRae have all affected me in that way and because all of them were strong African American women, I consider them to be a part of my society.
Also, when I think of great men like Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, and Miles Davis, the role of an artist seems clear to me: Make your mark. Just like Ella, Sarah, Carmen and Billie, those men lived to please, but they were constantly innovating; they did not hesitate to challenge the ears of the listener. Anyone who was willing to listen more than once was almost always happy with the result.
Finally, what is the answer to the question: How does my decision of becoming a Jazz musician affect my community in a positive way? I’d like to hope that because I’m young other people my age would see that Jazz isn’t all that bad. It may be a little idealistic of me, but I truly believe that more people of my generation can become fluent in the language of swing. Walking around Berklee or even spending a weekend with friends in New York, it’s very easy to believe that Jazz is coming back, but in reality it’s on life support. My dream for my community is for the genre of Jazz music to be back in full effect. I understand that the music industry is all about money, and when sanity made sense they sold it, but now there is a good amount of kids in my generation who love foolishness, therefore the music business is selling it. So now it starts with me, and other Jazz lovers of my generation. I believe we can do it!