Musical Heros vs Musical Role Models

I‘ve been asked millions of times in my musical career “who were your musical heroes when you were young?” I had a few that I would mention such as Charlie Parker, John Coltrane for Saxophone; Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, James Brown, Al green as Artist in general. Which is interesting because a lot of those artists were not from my generation but my parents. I was a very strange kid when it came to music. As I look back on it now, the thing that really stoked my fire and passion for music were the musical role models that I was blessed to have during that time. When you ask that question to the Famous  artist of the past and present, I notice in many cases the people they would name as their heroes, were not the ones who had the  greatest impact on their development, rather it was the quality of musical role models they would interact with on a daily basis. We are able to experience the talent and gifts of an artist like Michael Jackson, because of his opportunity  to learn from some of the greatest recording artists of that era who poured into him almost on a daily basis.

There is a major difference between heroes and role models. Heroes are people who achieve extraordinary things that inspire us to want to do extraordinary things, but it is our role models who give us a flesh and blood vision of what it takes for us to achieve extraordinary things. They make us count the cost for being great! We can not rely on our musical heroes to fuel our passion for developing as musicians when it comes to the less glamorous part of singing or playing an instrument. Our musical heroes are really not the ones who help us tame the “Monster” (practice). Every young musician needs a role model who can show them how to slay the dragon of the rudimental studying of a musical instrument. I’m seeing a lot more studio musicians and professional working artists being a part of youth music programs, and I believe that it can be invaluable to their development. 

What would happen if the common inner city youth wanting to learn and develop in music had role models on the same level of musicianship or level of skill as their musical heroes. imagine how much would that young musician is able to maximize their musical potential! I believe we need to have more of our professional working studio musicians and artist take an active role in mentoring young talent. That is why I believe God has laid MissionZ In Music (MIM) and its student developmental elements on my heart! A big part of MIM is its ability to touch the next generation of stars and musical giants during the crucial times of their development. So when you look at the title of the blog, I am not really saying that one is needed and the other is not, but I do believe that one can be much more valuable than the other at very important stages of a young artist's development. So I say to my fellow professional musicians and artists, find some young people to pour your wisdom and knowledge into; and to the young musicians I say it’s ok to have your heroes but be very careful that you don’t miss the opportunity to find someone that can be a role model for you to reach your dreams and full potential!!!

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