‘Children of the Snow Land’ is an extraordinarily moving, inspirational and absorbing documentary, filmed from the ‘roof of the world’ where families struggle and sacrifice everything to help their children.
From the age of 4 years old, children are sent to school in the city, hoping education means a better life. Unfortunately, this comes with the likelihood they will not see their parents and families again for 12 years. Children of the Snow Land documents the life experiences of children born in the High Himalayas of Nepal and follows the journey of three students as they embark on a perilous trek back to their respective villages.
One of the directors is Zara Balfour. Zara is an award-winning director, producer and writer with 18 years experience in all forms of documentary, film and content, specialising in films about the world we live in and people and cultures worldwide. She has filmed in over 20 countries, often documenting community projects in developing countries.
She began her career as an actress before moving behind the camera as producer and director. Zara set up Picture on the Wall Productions and has won awards at film festivals including Berlin Film Festival (winner of the Prix UIP for Best European Short Film), London Film Festival, European Film Awards, Telluride, Warp Records v Creative Review Awards and Cannes Lions. I was fortunate to catch up with her ahead of the film’s general release and ask a few questions.
What support did you get from the Nepalese Government or national agencies?
We didn’t ask for support in the beginning but the school organised a fundraising gala screening in Kathmandu after we completed the film. The Mayor of Kathmandu and the Vice President of Nepal attended. Now we have their support and we hope we can facilitate further fundraising events.
Was the filming of the documentary much of a logistical challenge?
The villages are off the grid. It was only ever two film crew plus a guide, porters and the children. Half the time it was me and co-director Marcus Stephenson or I was accompanied by our cameraman/photographer Mark Hakansson.
We used solar charger kits and backpacks, enabling us to film in difficult and remote areas. We did have porters and donkeys to aid our travel but the journey was treacherous. At times the donkeys would panic in the face of treacherous river crossings. All the rivers start in Nepal and head down towards southern Asia. Some of the dangerous moments aren’t on film and I am scared for the children going back home this year because they won’t be accompanied. It isn’t an easy journey and it’s tougher than it’s shown on film.
What about a sequel and is there anything you would do differently?
I would like to revisit the children in future to see how their lives have changed. Perhaps film them in a similar style to Michael Apted’s ‘Seven Up’ series, which followed the lives of fourteen British children since 1964. On a technical level, a bigger crew and more resources would have been nice.
So what are the next steps?
The documentary will be streaming on demand and on general release from 14thMarch 2019 at Curzon Cinemas in the UK, Ireland and Malta.
The aims of Children of the Snow Land are:
To show a global audience what some young people have to do for an education – and allow the Children of the Snow Land to inspire people around the world with their tenacity, grace, courage and wisdom.
To increase awareness and help improve the lives of Himalayan children attending school far from home by helping them to stay connected with their families, and to ensure they make full use of the education for which they have made such a sacrifice. The film has already inspired donations of over $30,000 to directly help the children.
To encourage development of the Himalayan villages so that eventually children won’t have to be separated from their families to achieve an education.
Last year I attended the Elizabeth James Gallery’s second anniversary event and met an extraordinarily talented, humble and interesting artist by the name of Andre Dane Parchment. Andre is originally from Jamaica where he studied printmaking, graphics and drawing. Showing entrepreneurial flare, he started an arts and graphic business but, after a particularly difficult period concluding in the loss of his business, he made significant changes in life, including migrating to the UK to become a British soldier deployed in Iraq.
Since becoming a civilian, he has exhibited at the London Battersea Affordable Art fair (exhibiting with the Army Art Society), Charlton House and the Canary Wharf Window Gallery. Andre kindly agreed to answer a few questions, share his ideas and tell me about his current projects. I’m genuinely excited for him and look forward to following his career. The full interview is featured on Occhi Magazine.
How did you get involved in the arts?
I got involved with the arts from an early age. Maybe it was the beautiful sceneries of the Caribbean island of Jamaica that squeeze the artistic juice out of me. In fourth grade, I would look out from the classroom sketching the sea, birds and fishermen boats passing inside my lesson book with my 2hb pencil. I then moved on to higher education at St. Elizabeth Technical High School specializing in the arts during the last three years of secondary schooling. It was art class that help to fund apart of my bus fare and school meals doing commission works when times were financially challenging.
You were in the armed forces. Can you share some of your experiences and did your art provide therapy during this time?
I served in the British Armed Forces for over six years. When I first joined it was a total culture shock, the treatment for Commonwealth soldiers were different in many ways even though we were all in the same army to protect and serve. But being an immigrant comes with its struggles and stigma, on the other hand it gave me great opportunities and experience which I have no regrets, for each trial encounter made me a better and stronger person.
I was deployed in Iraq in 2006 as an infantry soldier, served alongside other regiments and nationalities. We had near misses of mortar rounds exploding just a few feet away, snipers shooting at random to kill, the fear of not knowing when or if we would walk or drive on explosive devices that can either kill or cause fragmentation.
I wanted to find a distraction that would keep my mind occupied from what was happening in Iraq, something to build my morale on, this was where art became a therapy, in the midst of the madness of war It made me found peace, something beautiful amongst the devastation and destruction, art was my calming influence.
You’re currently working on a series of work and an accompanying publication. What’s the project and what we should expect?
I am writing a book with a series of paintings in accordance with the title Blind Vision Possible Dreams.
It is a semi-autobiography depicting memories of youthfulness, love, failures and success. In it, I am writing my dreams of being a songwriter, an author, and an artist having exhibitions in London and around the world. Secondly, I have also been inspired to write a number of short poems that will be illustrated through sketches. At present, a publisher is having a look at some of them, but I’m still not sure what form of publication I will be using.
For 2019 I will be hoping to have a book launch and art exhibitions which include a series of paintings titled Street Sleepers, with the aim to give back to charities that support the homeless.
What’s the motivation behind your current theme of work?
The motivation behind my current theme of work comes from wanting to view life from a different perspective through painting and writing, taking on new challenges that would help me grow and develop in order to encourage and motivate others not to limit themselves or live in the land of procrastination, but to be the best they can be.
You’re involved in local mentoring initiatives focusing on youth development. Are any of these related to the arts?
I do training and mentoring at my workplace a supervisor and at Refuge Temple in South East London, especially with young men. Apart of the mentoring and development I include art, music, and poetry, working with instruments and art materials that help them to be more creative and think differently, not to be conformed to the bad influence and negativity of their environment, but to try a make a positive change.
As we begin another year of resolutions and a desire to fulfil creative ambitions, it’s great to gain inspiration from talented artists such as Kileza. Kileza is an indie-pop singer, songwriter and producer who calls the world home. Born and raised in South Africa, she’s lived and performed in Argentina, Canada and Germany. Her music reflects the influences of her travels, which now include London. I recently met her at a music industry event and she agreed to discuss her album ‘A Berlin Winter’ and share career aspirations. The full interview is featured on Occhi Magazine.
Your music is vocally enticing, impressive and winningly authentic. Congratulations on the completion of your album. What can you tell listeners about ‘ A Berlin Winter?’
Thank you, for the kind words. I’m pleased to hear that. Well, A Berlin Winter is a passion project of mine. I wrote it during one of Berlin’s longest and coldest winters
in 50 years (in 2013), my aim was purely to make music that soothed the listener, through the cold and through a difficult time whether it be heartbreak or an isolated period.
What inspired you to write this album?
Earlier that year I had bought an 88 key digital piano. I was inspired by Debussy and James Blake. I was coming to terms with a painful breakup from a few years before. I finally felt ready to write about it.
Loneliness, isolation, heart ache, self reflection, and winter were the main inspirations. I think being in a different country and somehow musically materialising my surroundings and feelings into musical form, inspired me to write this album.
Tell us about your song writing process. How do you choose the topic to sing about?
Every song starts differently, but generally speaking, I had just bought a new piano, I was fiddling with it, and melodies and ideas just started flowing to my mind.
I wanted to articulate the pain I had been feeling from a few years prior; due to a very intense love I had found and lost in Toronto a few years earlier. Sometimes a melody just rattles around in my brain, and sometimes I have an idea to write a certain kind of song, whether catchy or melancholic, and then a feeling sort of materialises in me.
What are your musical icons/influences?
I would say Mariah Carey is probably my biggest musical influence. I also take inspiration from artists like Nina Simone, James Blake, Lauren Hill and Damien Rice.
What’s the ultimate direction of your music?
This album is not so commercial, it’s a little bit more avant garde and niche, but going forward it will be more solidly R&B/Pop. I love catchy melodies and big ballads.
You call the world home so where are you based now?
As of 6 months ago, I’m based in London, and I’m absolutely loving it, I love to move around, I love to learn languages, I feel a little Caribbean and a little Latin American at heart, so that’s where I hope to move in the next few years. Either Mexico, or Portugal, or Argentina, where I’ve lived before, we’ll have to see if my partner gets on board!
How do potential listeners find out more about you and your music?
I think instagram is probably the best as it is de rigeur at the moment.
I wish her the very best for 2019! For further information on Kileza please visit
It’s always such a pleasure to meet inspiring artists and be exposed to their wonderful work. Amber Henry is one of those artists who, aside from being an excellent painter, has highly admirable aspirations to assist charities and agencies supporting those affected by cancer. A former Laguna Beach gallery owner, she relocated from Southern California to Salt Lake City in 2011 to take care of her mother who was suffering from breast cancer.
Amber graduated from Laguna College of Art + Design with a BFA in Fine Arts and Illustration. She went on to show in local Laguna art galleries such as Fingerhut and Orange County Creatives. While in California, she was a leader in the Laguna Beach art community, served on various committees such as First Thursday’s Art Walk, and Laguna College of Art + Design’s mentoring and alumni committees. She recently featured in a solo exhibition at Alpine Art Gallery in Salt Lake City. Amber kindly agreed to talk further about her art, career and future objectives.
I love your artwork. What’s your story and how did you become an artist?
I have always been consumed by imagination and creativity. Wandering, wondering, sensitive to unique patterns in everything and the many levels of colour and beauty these created. As long as I can remember, unique stories and ideas would play out within my imagination. It was as though these stories were so real I could reach out and touch them. As the creative environment travelled with me, so did my crayons, markers, pencils and torn pieces of paper. My pockets would overflow with drawing utensils and various “fascinating” objects which had been collected throughout the day. At one point, the discovery that I could create a world with paint and canvas lead to the realization that art has always lived within me and that I was destined to share this with the world and make my impression.
Do you specialize in portraits or do you work on different commissions?
Though I am passionate about portrait painting, I have and will work on any custom art. I tend to pour my soul in whatever I do, so creating custom art that will make a deep impact on anyone viewing the art, is an important to me and a large part of what I do. All of my art must evoke some sort of experience in the emotional sense. Otherwise, I feel as though my work is not complete.
I had the privilege of first seeing your work via Twitter. Can you provide further insight on how you managed to develop a theme of patient portraits?
I feel that people make an impression on the world. Every crease, wrinkle, scar and expression, tells a story and reveals pieces of a unique journey. Eyes reflect all kinds of emotion, from love, joy, pain, passion, and in many cases more than we can ever fathom. For me, to tell a story is to create a portrait and capture every one of those details in that moment. Storytelling in a single moment in time. A moment that can appear to be only what you see on the surface, yet gives a glimpse into what lies beneath the surface. I want my art to inspire people to use their imagination to interpret a particular piece and its story.
It all began with a portrait of my mother who passed away of cancer. I used this as healing process for myself. I wanted to capture the inner light and positive outlook she most often carried. From there, my hope was to capture likeness in a deeper sense. Yes, likeness can be captured by the artist in the physical sense. One can take a photo of a person and create a version that looks just like the person on the outside, but how many are able to successfully capture the inner person as well? It is the little nuances that matter. A certain depth and twinkle in the eye, a slight turn of the mouth, an eyebrow raised slightly higher than the other.
I don’t wish to only go skin deep when painting people. Capturing the soul is what I strive for whether it be painting a portrait of someone who has passed or one that is still physically with us.
An impression of the soul and capturing that moment in time…the essence of a person.
Are there any charities or agencies you would like to work with to develop this project further?
I would love to work with any non-profit organizations which promote healing for those affected by cancer in some way, survivors, caregivers and family of those afflicted. Currently, I am looking to raise money larger organizations like Komen as well as smaller, community based non-profits. Since giving back is such a big part of what I am trying to do, for those who mention this interview when ordering any of my artwork, I will donate 25% of the proceeds to a charity such as Komen or one of their choosing.
Progress has been made in how the health sector uses art as part of the healing process. Do you have any ideas how this can be furthered?
I’m no doctor, but I believe that by raising awareness on how utilizing the arts can promote healing and can bring hope and joy to so many. There is so much focus on treatments in the physical sense, like chemo, radiation and nutrition, and exercise. What about the fine arts, music and dance? Even if it provides a creative distraction from whatever treatment a person is going through, I do believe our emotional health and personal fulfilment directly reflects our outlook and physical wellbeing. If someone can get lost in imagining the story behind a piece of my art, it’s certainly better than thinking about their battle with whatever illness or challenge they are facing. I believe anyone affected by any sort of physical challenge can be positively uplifted by creativity whether it is through their own, or experiencing and enjoying the creativity of others.
What other projects and activities should we look out for?
I’d like to further examine people. People affected by a variety circumstances, like homelessness, poverty, etc. Based on their story, I would paint them, striving to re-create the moment in time in which their story was told. Even if is a painting of a space with no people, this would reflect a specific experience or story told.
I wish Amber the very best for the future. For further info Amber can be contacted via the following links
I am very happy to announce friend and fellow artist Kerry Zacharia will be exhibiting her first central London solo art exhibition near St Paul’s Cathedral from the 20th March to Friday, 6th April.
The theme for this show is London, entitled “London in Different Dimensions”. This exhibition will be hosted by The Salvation Army at their International Headquarters within their Gallery 101 space. The Private Viewing will be held from 5:30pm to 8:30pm on the 21st March.
In this exhibition, Kerry aims to engage her audience in a very decisive way with her expressive and highly individual graphic line style, taking them on a journey through familiar urban scenes of this great City of London. They will experience how her everyday life, inspired by simple, uplifting and sometimes spiritual moments, has been turned into a unique collection of paintings. Her London art is deeper than the instant connection it forms, especially when closely observed her audience will be guided via the energy of her lines, allowing for any mysteries to unfold and connections to be formed, thus making the whole experience of viewing her art ‘different’.
Kerry was born and raised in North London and is of Greek-Cypriot ethnic origin. Creative talent was present in her as a child; however, her career took her on a different path. Her passion for art long remained and at the age of 53 she has managed to establish quite a following. As a self-taught artist, Kerry has not been influenced by any art training and relies on her own inspirations and inner vision to guide and develop her art practice. Her art is largely received as “different”, “energising” and “mysterious” and as her having a unique and recognisable style. Someone has described it as “Van Gogh from another dimension”.
In conjunction with this exhibition, Kerry will be running a fundraising event to raise awareness and money to help support the great work of The Salvation Army. People engaging in her fundraising event will not only be entitled to a generous discount on buying her original art, but will be helping Kerry raise even more money as her employer, Telereal Trillium, will ‘Charity Match’ her donations.
Kerry was happy to answer a few questions about the exhibition, her work and what’s planned for the future.
How long have you been a practicing artist?
I started painting with ink on painting around 2005 and took part in my first group exhibition in March 2014. I officially went public with my art on social media in October 2013.
Your work is very distinctive and appears to follow certain themes. Are there any artists who particularly inspire you?
I developed my own style over the years and recall early traits of my graphic linear style back to when I was at school but it wasn’t until I look to ink on paper that my style started to take shape evolve.
Being self-taught, my style is inspired from within and my everyday environments. I’ve always liked the old masters El Greco, Monet, Van Gogh, Seurat, Dali, Cezanne.
Many connect my art with Van Gogh but this happened naturally and not because I have studied his work or been particularly influenced by his art.
Please explain more about your work and the theme of the show?
Yes, I’ve entitled it “London in Different Dimensions” as the show not only captures the breadth of my London theme collection but also the different ways of looking at familiar urban scenes through a number of sub-sets.
These paintings have been naturally inspired by simple and sometimes spiritual moments that I have experienced in my everyday life. The viewer will certainly be transported via a unique artistic journey through this great city. Many of the paintings are inspired around the city because that is where I work and I always find spiritual inspiration when I’m near St Paul’s Cathedral. I’m absolutely delighted to be able to show these paintings just around the corner from there at The Salvation Army International Headquarters.
So what’s your connection with the Salvation Army?
It has been my main goal to get my London theme collection under one roof in a solo exhibition in central London and to combine it with the ‘art of giving’. It all fell into place when I became associated with The Salvation Army during a group show at their Gallery 101 space, September 2017. I have since become more familiar with the great work they do. I set up a fundraising campaign on ‘Just Giving’ to run in conjunction with my solo show to raise awareness and money in two key areas of their work, homelessness and modern-day slavery i.e. human trafficking.
I believe this is your first solo show in London?
This is my first solo show in central London. I also had a smaller similar themed solo show near to where I live in North London, June 2015.
What other plans do you have for 2018?
I’m currently working on a new body of art inspired by family and faith, which I hope to exhibit 2019/2020. I’ve no other planned shows although I would be looking for a suitable opportunity to exhibit a recent contemporary series, entitled ‘Open the Door’ later in the year.
The exhibition is at Gallery 101, The Salvation Army International Headquarters, 101 Queen Victoria Street, London, EC4V 4EH. Open Monday to Friday 8:30am to 4:30pm (closed Good Friday/Easter Monday). Nearest Stations: Blackfriars, Mansion House and St Paul’s. Click here for Gallery 101 details. Kerry will be available most days at the show, contact Kerry to arrange an appointment.
Contact details: mobile 07976 742692; for all enquiries and to RSVP for Private View email firstname.lastname@example.org; to learn more about Kerry Zacharia and her art practice visit www.artistkerryzacharia.com
I believe creativity is in each of us. Moreover, as we self-explore, we discover mediums of art that capture our interests whilst nurturing our inner most talents. It’s great when others are able to see this and admire the results. One person who illustrates the ability to develop an artistic skill is Paul Fletcher. I had the pleasure of befriending Paul during our work with the Royal Institute of British Architects and been friends ever since. He’s always been creative but now I’ve witnessed his transformation into a very talented but humble photographer. It’s been a privilege to have him answer a few questions regarding his wonderful work and what’s next on the horizon.
I see you as an artist but I recall your hesitancy in describing yourself as one. Why was that and how would you describe yourself now?
I remain unable to refer to myself as an artist, I struggled for sometime to even consider myself as a photographer. This because I know that simply owning a camera does not make someone a photographer. Equally as I’m entirely self taught it also seemed somewhat of an exaggeration to call myself ‘photographer’.
However, having now commissions to work as a photographer and even having a few pieces hang in a gallery it would be false modesty to not accept that I am a photographer. I still cannot consider myself an artist however.
How did you get into photography?
In winter 2014 I bought my first camera, a secondhand analogue rangefinder. I bought this because my son, who was studying A-level photography and was due to stay with me for Christmas. I thought it would be a great idea to learn how to shoot over that holiday with my son, a good bonding activity. Unfortunately my son did not come to stay. However I did start a stumbling journey to teach myself how to use a camera and more so begin the journey of learning how to make a photograph. During 2015 I shot infrequently and inconsistently, probably no more than 20 rolls of film in the whole year. Early in 2016 I traded my film camera for a digital camera (primarily so I could shoot more often and see the results more immediately).
All artists find their chosen medium therapeutic but how has photography helped you?
This is very real for me. Coincidently at about the same time as buying my first camera I was diagnosed with a chronic illness, type 2 bipolar disorder. During 2015 I experienced a period of deep and prolonged depression (6 months). During this period I shot very infrequently. In an up period early 2016 I traded the film camera for a digital one. I shot much more frequently for several months. But what I shot was clumsy and not very good, I now consider what I was doing then as forced and was very much about taking. I was trying too hard to be a photographer. In the summer of that year I again fell into a very deep period of depression, I became trapped alone at home losing my interest in photography and even living at the darkest times. This caused concern for my friends and one suggested to get me out of the house and engaging with others I should reawaken my interest to photography and join some groups.
After some persuasion I did this and by late July I was shooting again, with groups who would meet a few times a month. In late August 2016 I entered a ‘Street Photography’ competition, intending to learn. Much too my surprise I won a couple of the categories and was even acknowledged for one of the best shots of the competition. However my period of depression continued, I was learning that it was not circumstantial but a disorder in my head over which I had very little control. Friends insisted that I keep shooting as 2016 closed and 2017 began I was shooting almost everyday. I was also finding such practice therapeutic. Unknowingly I was shooting from my heart, not my head. This allowed a new form of expression and creativity to begin to emerge. Even more significantly it offered me a new way to interact with people. In August 2016 I was capturing people in candid ways, almost in stealth. By January 2017 I was making as many permissive captures as candid ones. Through these real world interactions and what I was beginning to post on social media people started to show interest in my photography.
In February 2017 when the depressed period lifted the interested seemed to grow somewhat exponentially. I was hanging a few pieces in a gallery exhibition and I was getting paid commissions for fashion and portraiture shoots. However this initial ‘success’ was derailed by yet another period of depression in late July. At this point I reverted to my default of walking about London, making photographs of what I found and using the camera to give me some form of respite from the chronic illness I battle. This period was different though. It was less intense and as it happened briefer, about three months. That I believe is likely because of a combination of factors; finding medication that I can tolerate, my acceptance and growing understanding of the illness and what I now know to be very true – that photography is good for me, possibly essential to my wellbeing. Today I am comfortable referring to my photography as ‘my work’ and I endeavour that everything I do is more ‘make’ than ‘take’. It is not an exaggeration to say that photography has saved my life.
As you develop your photography, are there any areas or particular themes you’d like to explore?
My interest remains with people, especially people in the urban environment. Candid capture and permissive making of photographs. I consider how I’m developing as something I call ‘Urban Anthropology’ as that is what I’m doing – studying humans in the city as they live their day to day lives. I am particularly interested developing stories about those who are increasingly forgotten by society; the elderly, the homeless and those with mental illness (a very personal thing for me). My commercial work has moved away from fashion as I soon found it to be disrespectful and demeaning of models, especially girls and exploitative of photographers and other creatives. My interest in portraiture is growing and this is the area in which I am looking to develop commissioned work. I am also occasionally exploring a form of photography that could be considered ‘fine art’ and may look to hang work in a gallery in the future. But I remain adamant that I am definitely not an artist!
We’ll have to disagree on that! Are there any photographers you are particularly influenced by and why?
There are two types of photographer that fit this, those whose work inspires me and those who I am fortunate to have got to know personally. Of the ones that inspire I would particularly Sally Mann, Mary Ellen Mark, Helmut Newton, Joel Meyerowitz and John Gay.
Colour or black and white photography- which do you prefer?
For my personal work it would seem that it is black and white. I self taught with black and white film, although when I switched to digital I did shoot colour predominantly for a period, today I have returned to black and white. In fact the digital camera I use now only captures luminance and no hue! I also have a film camera again, which is almost always loaded with black and white film.
I’ve known you for a while now, particularly in your former capacity as an architect. I know you have always worked passionately to improve society’s appreciation of civic space. Is this something your photography also captures or contribute towards?
No. I’m more interested in people that the constructs that contain them, whether that be civic space or buildings. You are correct that I strived to create the best spaces for people whilst an architect, however when I realised some years ago that all spaces and buildings, as the product of the property industry, are nothing more than commodity traded for financial return. People simply do not matter, regardless of the rhetoric. At this point my trajectory out of that industry had begun. Formally surrendering my professional status as an architect in 2016 was made as protest against architects being merely ‘building stylists’ with next to no influence over the role of the built environment to enhance society. I could not pretend any longer.
What projects are you currently working on?
Hmmm, nothing specific. I am exploring where ‘Urban Anthropology’ might lead and recently have found myself making landscape photographs, who knows where it might lead? All I know is that I must remain to be led by heart and not head.
I wish Paul continued success and look forward to seeing more of his excellent work. For further information on Paul, please visit his official website.
One thing I love about New York is the number of talented artists it hosts, particularly jazz musicians of pure quality and depth. One of these is Philadelphia’s Duane Eubanks, an extraordinarily talented jazz trumpeter, composer, arranger, producer and recent recipient of the Philadelphia Education Fund EDDY Award.
Knowing he has also performed with mutual friends, I’ve been following his career and have the pleasure of owning his albums “Things of that Particular Nature” (2015-Sunnyside) and “DE3-Live at Maxwell’s (2016-Sunnyside). I recently had the pleasure and honour to speak to him about his career to date and what’s next on the horizon.
One of the questions artists are asked is how they chose their medium but we already know it’s in your blood; Your mother is pianist Vera Eubanks and your brothers are celebrated trombonist Robin Eubanks and guitarist Kevin Eubanks. I guess my first question is why did you choose the trumpet over any other instrument?
I have a twin brother, Shane… He and I began playing music at the same time. Our brother, Kevin, played trumpet before he played guitar. Robin has always played Trombone. My twin is taller than me by 6 inches, our brothers had old instruments at home so, when it was time to choose instruments, Shane got the longer instrument (the trombone) and I got the shorter instrument – trumpet. I think each instrument has a certain personality that relates to prospective musicians that play them. I feel a special connection to the trumpet. My height was a plus in this situation.
You decided to read business at the University of Maryland. Did you always see yourself becoming a musician and was that choice purely for academic merits?
I studied Business in college because I was fairly good at maths and was impressed by my dad’s corporate dealings and the level of stability with which he lived his life. I was very confused about being a musician when I entered college. I wasn’t even playing when I entered college. I had my years of teenage rebellion and I stopped playing for 6 years (14-20). I missed the very formative years so I had to work really hard to get my playing on a certain level. My brother, Shane, convinced me to join the school band and I became obsessed with the instrument and thus a change of heart in terms of my lifelong ambitions.
Describe your experience studying jazz at Temple University with Dr Billy Taylor and subsequently working with Mulgrew Miller’s Wingspan?
My time at Temple was specifically an attempt to prepare myself for my move to New York. I wanted to be on a certain musical level before I made the move. Temple University awarded me the time to learn and practice. It also awarded me the opportunities to meet and perform, through master classes, with Dr. Billy Taylor and Wynton Marsalis.
I had the absolute honour to perform with the great Mulgrew Miller. I was a member of his band, Wingspan, for ten years. Words cannot express the gratitude I have for Mulgrew taking me under his wing. I grew immensely from this experience and learned in abundance about the realities involved in being a musician, bandleader, and I got to witness, first hand, a genius at work and how he carried himself as a human being. It was a blessing that has shaped me as a musician and I will NEVER forget the experience or him.
You are a recipient of the Philadelphia Education Fund EDDY Award. Can you explain the initiative/award further and the importance music education plays in furthering the careers of young musicians?
The Philadelphia Education Fund stands very firmly for all aspects dealing with high quality education. They are advocates for quality teachers, quality learning environments and the overall quality of students’ learning experience.
I received an EDDY award as an advocate for education. It was an honour to be chosen along with my brothers, Robin and Kevin, to receive this education award. Education is the key to our nation’s future. I have accepted the responsibility to share the information that I have gained through my years of experience to ensure the proper information is passed in order to sustain the high level of the music that I love. The generations before me did the same so I could learn. Prospective musicians have a right and a responsibility to learn and those with the experience have a responsibility to share/teach. I, personally, put the responsibility on both student and teacher.
That’s very admirable and congratulations on receiving the award. I’ve heard American jazz artist talk about the popularity of the genre declining but surely this isn’t the case? Moreover, jazz continues to be very popular globally. What’s your view?
I think the popularity of jazz will always be an issue being discussed. Many have no idea that jazz WAS the popular music in the early part of the century. It has lost its place in popular music but is still very relevant to a number of people. If it wasn’t , there wouldn’t be so many musicians trying to learn the art form. In Europe, where I think cultural values and advances are praised, supported, and upheld, communities have far more access to things of artistic expression (music, art, literature, etc.) I don’t see that kind of dedication to the uplifting of the minds of the American people. Jazz music gives the listener the opportunity to open their minds, think freely, and absorb a different approach to a general situation. The emphasis on the importance of the arts has been gravely overlooked. I think it’s hindering the advancement, exposure, and the quality of the arts and society as a whole.
To date, not only have you worked in jazz but across many genres, at many venues and with a number of notable artists. What has been the highlight of your career to date and why?
I am extremely proud of the fact that I have worked in many different genres of music in many different settings. I think it is very important for musicians to keep an open mind when it comes to crossing genres when performing. It allows you to grow as an artist and opens yourself to prospective fans of your craft. I have to say that working with the legendary Elvin Jones would have to be at the top of the list. I constantly thank my man, Bassist, Gerald Cannon for making it possible for me to be a part of Elvin’s band. I still wear the shirts we had to wear. I got to witness, first hand, the spiritual element of the music. I guess it was easy for him from playing so many years with John Coltrane, but it was an awesome experience to watch him play his heart and soul every night on every tune. It made me aware of the fact that music is spirit and the lack of it in today’s artists.
Who is at the top of your list to work with next if you’re given the opportunity?
Work with next? I have ALWAYS been on a mission to learn as much as possible from my predecessors. I have a list of guys in mind…. George Cables, Victor Lewis, Billy Hart, Harold Mabern, to name a few. I have worked with Dave Holland’s Big Band. I would love to experience that again and would embrace the opportunity to do a smaller group with him. I would also like to do a something different like 3 trumpets with incredible talents that walk with humility (no ego – I can’t do egos, especially trumpet egos) perhaps Josh Evans and Roy Hargrove… that would be fun.
I forgot to add, working with my brothers Robin and Kevin. I think that is something not only I would look forward to but many in the industry as well. Also Roy Haynes!! The thing about music is that there are plenty of ways to learn, people to learn from and plenty of music to make.
Following the successful release of ‘DE3: Live at Maxwells’ and ‘Things of that Particular Nature’ when should we expect another album?
I am very proud of my latest releases. They were well received and a lot of fun to produce. They were much needed learning experiences. You can expect something in 2018. I am performing a weekend at Smalls December 15 & 16. These dates may become commercially released performances.
Are you happy to share anything else currently in the pipeline?
Someone very wise and very close to me advised me not to share everything that I was up to. While you are working out your plans, someone has already implemented them. I am working on music for a number of recording ideas. One specific recording project I am really excited about. Everyone will know when things get put into motion. I now realize the importance of being creative when promoting myself. That being said, we did a mini documentary with the intention to draw some attention to my willingness to teach. This mini documentary has been accepted by a few independent film festivals. In general, keep your ears open for future recording projects. They are coming!
I look forward to witnessing more from Duane and wish him the very best with his career. For further information please visit his website. www.DuaneEubanks.com