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Artist of the Week — Kelvin Sholar

July 5, 2010 by · 1 comment

Interview by Yana Radilova with Kelvin Sholar

Kelvin Sholar: I want to transfer life into music through inspiration


You have been related to music since your early childhood. Have you ever been interested in other kinds of art?

Yes! I love reading good writings and have had a few poems published. Now, Iʼm writing a book on music that looks at its universal principles of structure, process and concept. I also like looking at Art in the form of movies, drawings and painitings, seeing formal dances and discovering any way of expression that is creative and full of thought, feeling and emotion.

Do you remember your first performances on stage?

Yes. They were with my mother and her choir at a local church in Detroit, Mi. She
was the pianist and choirmaster and she incorporated my brother and me into her program since we were old enough to handle the performance and discipline of it; we were about 5 years old or so. She has made me a proffesional by the time I was a teenager. My father, siblings and uncle are also musicians. In fact Iʼm a third generation musician and I see the rise of the fourth one coming soon!


How did you get acquainted with Marcus Belgrave? What was his influence on your development?

The first time I personally met Marcus was in a basement jam session in 1991 or so; I was about 18. Afterwards, he invited me to be a part of his current jazz workshop for young musicians, “The Young Lion Big-Band” at Serengeti Ballroom.
There I regularly played jazz of all periods, also by Detroit composerʼs like Lawrence Williams and Harold McKinney. My peers were there too: J.D. Allen, Karriem Riggins, Ali Jackson, Dechown Jenkins, Tasili Bond, Carlos McKinney and many others. Marcus was a role model of how to be a professional musician; but, I also have to mention Elizabeth Dowdell, Roy Trombly, Mr. Thornton and Edwards, James Tatum, Pamela Wise and Matt Michaels who taught me how to perform professionaly on the piano.

You are not only a talented pianist, but also an arranger, a musical director and a “fix-it” man. What of these jobs do you mostly prefer to do?

This depends on whether there is a balance between my input and
serving the needs of the project through the guidance of the leader, or the program of the event. One reason I love solo piano is because all direction and performance rest on me and I can express myself without waiting for others to catch up! In a group setting any keyboardist naturally assumes the roles of director and arranger because the range and polyphonic nature of the piano demands a deep knowledge of Harmony and Rhythm. However, I donʼt want to be the organizing force of a project without the full support of all its members – otherwise I feel like a dictator. When in a project with others, I
prefer cooperation and mutual gain over indepent delegation of directional duties.

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What is your main source of inspiration when it comes to composing?

Reality and Imagination. Real feelings, thoughts and ideas in my mind as well as
meaningful moments, people, things and places. I compose the best of real inspirations. For example, I visited the Goethe Institute and Bulgarian Consul in Sofia with Vladimir Karparov – I was really impressed by the music of Ivan Popozov and the Womanʼs Choir.

I also had such a great time listening to local geniuses like Stoyan Yukulov and Peyo Peev that I wrote a song about Sofia and Bulgaria. I played this song last week in Hamburg before members of the Bulgarian Consul and Bechstein, one of the great piano houses, and afterwards someone walked up to me and said: Wow! I never thought that there is a connection between Detroit and Sofia but you really have the feeling and sound of our traditional folk music!”. I want to transfer life into music through inspiration.

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Kelvin Sholar is a visionary musical artist. Recently named as one of
the best musical artitst IN THE WORLD in Artforum International’s Best of
2009 issue (along with like Leonard Cohen, Thom Yorke and Kanye
West). Kelvin is known for his enormous capacity to produce, compose
and perform in various genres from Jazz, Classical, Blues, Afro-Carribean
and Electronic music.

Kelvin has performed on several international television shows and
web broadcasts all over the world, he has been interviewed and filmed by
American director Spike Lee, and he has performed, collaborated and/or
recorded with many of the greatest musicianʼs in the world- fromThe New
York City Ballet to Carl Craig to Kenny Garrett and many more.
Kelvin Sholar has recorded and performed extensively in top level
festivals and musical venues in major cities all over the worldand he has
been awarded over 10 musical awards.

As well as being an amazing musician, Kelvin has lectured on
modern music at the Phillipos Nakas Conservatory (Athens, Greece), Cite
de la Musique (Marseilles, France), North Carolina Central University
(Durham, NC, USA), Kyo Rei Hall (Tokyo, Japan), Escola International
(Sao Paulo, Brazil), Porto Jazz school (Porto, Portugal) and Columbia
University, (New York, USA) on his unique method of musical theory
entitled “The Sholar System”.

For more information, visit this site:

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