It was two nights filled with dazzling sounds and audiences of music-lovers when Music Forward alum Elliott Skinner opened for experimental jazz icon Kamasi Washington on his recent tour. Soundchecks filled the rooms with breathtaking sounds from the horns, keys, and drums of highly-accomplished musicians including BIGYUKI and Ronald Bruner, Jr. among others. And when it was Elliott’s turn to soundcheck, the profoundness of his talent was palpable through the calm of his solo performance with just his acoustic guitar, loop pedal, and his voice.
Elliott participated in our emerging artist program in Dallas while a high school student at Booker T Washington HSPVA, whose notable alumni include Norah Jones, Erykah Badu, Roy Hargrove, and Edie Brickell. He was a standout talent at age 16 and has kept in touch with us over the years as he continued to hone his craft and pursue his passion for a career as an artist, currently in NYC.
Pairing Elliott’s soulful, folk-rock sounds with Kamasi’s boisterous jazz ensemble proved to be a true compliment of remarkable musicianship and beautiful emotion. I watched audiences become mesmerized by Elliott as he walked onto a stage that was set up for an 8-piece jazz ensemble and captivated their attention and hearts with his unique sound and undeniable gift. During a quiet song transition in his set, one audience member shouted from the back, “Thank you for this Elliott!” and the rest of the audience concurred with roaring applause.
The talent of young artists in our programs provides an exciting sensation towards the future of music. We have a beautiful array of diversity represented across years, genres, and personalities, and each emerging artist brings their unique story and influence from our communities nationwide. We are excited to see the talent that our artist development pathway presents this year and for the first time ever, later this year, we will be bringing Music Forward artists from all over the country together in Hollywood for a week-long intensive of industry learning, collaboration, and connectivity, There are sure to be stories of hope, beauty, and perseverance following this unprecedented time for all of us and we will continue to harness the power of music to drive us forward to a brighter future.
Written by: Nazanin Fatemian, Music Forward Director of Marketing