Music is something that should make you feel good. It has the power to transform one’s mood from gloomy to feelings of jubilation. Music always has been for me an outlet to express what I couldn’t sometimes say with words. Music has been a means to scream when I couldn’t, to laugh out-loud, and to cry without anyone knowing my pain.
I started out as a youngster playing the trumpet and performing in the school choir. I wasn’t a very good trumpet player and surely not a talented vocalist. Yet, that didn’t stop me from enjoying the thrill of performing. In the final weeks of 8th grade at Washington Polytechnic Academy something happened that almost never happens at a public school, two new instruments arrived. One was an alto saxophone and the other? You guessed it a tenor saxophone. The alto did nothing for me but that tenor? Well, it was almost as big as me•a then 6’0” awkward 13-year-old.
I begged my teacher, Mr. Wingfield, the rest of the year to let me take it home for the summer. After much pestering, he agreed. When I played that tenor, something happened that had never before when it came to me and music. We connected and I sounded good! My passion came to life as forgotten memories of hearing the saxophone resurfaced. It became impossible for me to watch TV or a movie without hearing that haunting sound of a saxophone. That summer I took lessons at the neighborhood youth center, Bidwell, and studied under talented pianist, Dr. Leonard Johnson, (who would later join my band). The summer ended and off I went to high school (Schenley High). There I met a friend and brother, Mr. Todd Preston. He doubled as my band teacher by day and professional saxophonist by night. The next 2 years we spent what seemed like every waking moment together. He helped me learn the saxophone, and I helped him get reactivated as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses.