I hope my first music mentor TJ doesn’t mind me sharing what he posted recently. I do want to acknowledge him and my other mentors and teachers. He gave up his Friday nights to work with a teenager when I was taking my baby steps in my craft. I appreciate each and everyone one of my mentors and teachers for their support and passing of knowledge. I continue to learn.
After I worked with TJ I met the late Bobby Lanz, which is how I ended up in FL. Long story short, Bobby was a blind pianist/organist that recorded with Al Green, performed with a slew of famous artists from Johnny Cash, B.B. King, Ike & Tina Turner, too many to name , and also lead his own band that was signed under RCA Records. Sadly, Bobby passed in 2007 and he never got to see what happened with my music career. I still think about him often and stay in touch with his brother Frank. I also had great teachers in middle and high school. I think my most influential would be Allen Couch for creating a jazz program my junior year of high school. Without him I don't know how interested I would have been in pursuing my career. I also have to give Dr. Ann Porter credit as the high school director giving me artist performance slots during band concerts. I didn't realize how unique of an opportunity it was at the time. She must have really saw something in me. Sometimes as a kid you overlook things and are not as thankful as you should be.
Here is TJ’s post from my Baby Coffee Seabreeze Jazz Festival video he shared: “I met this young man during my time in Kentucky. When we met, he was in high school and we both played in a community band. During a break, he was playing some smooth jazz stuff, I went over to talk to him.........to make a long story short, he had ideas for songs and we worked on a few of his originals for talent competitions. The 1st year we worked on his music, he came in 1st place in the school, county and state contests. The second year, he came in 1st at school and county, and 2nd at state.
This young man went on to follow his dream and passion to become a smooth jazz artist.........and he made it BIG TIME! His music has been heard on the Weather Channel, one of his songs was used in a movie and he reached #1 on Billboard jazz recently.
It has been AMAZING to follow this guy's journey and to see where he is today. Another thing I love about this guy is that he ALWAYS remembers the musicians and teachers he's met over the years who influenced and/or encouraged him. I am truly honored to be among those mentioned by him. Michael J Thomas, it is you now who inspire me in my journey! Proud of you, Sir!!!”