Alonzo Demetrius Ryan Jr. is a trumpeter, composer, and bandleader. He was classically trained in trumpet pedagogy and has studied at the historic Philadelphia Clef Club of Jazz. In 2014 he obtained a B.M. from the Berklee College of Music, and in 2019 received his MM from the Berklee Global Jazz Institute. He has taught masterclasses domestically and abroad at Berklee College of Music, IMEP Paris College of Music, Music Academy International, Fundación Danilo Perez, and beyond. Alonzo is the founder and bandleader of the band The Ego, which has performed throughout the New England and New York metropolitan areas since the fall of 2017. He has worked with musicians including Terence Blanchard, Terri Lyne Carrington, Ralph Peterson Jr., Tia Fuller, Robert Glasper, and Jason Palmer. His album Live from the Prison Nation (The Onyx Productions Music Label, 2020) is his personal form of protest against the Prison Industrial Complex.
Interviewed by Tamar Sella, 10/08/2020.
Arnetta Johnson is a trumpet player based in Camden, New Jersey. Johnson began playing trumpet at age thirteen with mentors Nasir Dickerson, Jamal Dickerson, and Hassan Sabree. She attended the Creative and Performing Arts High School in Camden, followed by Berklee College of Music. Johnson has performed with Beyoncé at the Super Bowl, as a featured trumpeter on her 2018 On the Run II Tour, and on the Carters’ Grammy-winning album Everything Is Love. She has toured internationally and performed on television shows including Black Girls Rock. Johnson has also studied with saxophonist Tia Fuller and singer-poet Jill Scott, whose Blues Babe Foundation presented Johnson with their Rising Star Award. Johnson has worked with musicians including Terri Lyne Carrington, the Roots, and Chloe x Halle, and leads her own band Arnetta Johnson and SUNNY (Sounds Uplifting Nobility through Notes and Youth). Her goal is to stand jazz on its head: disrupt, uplift, and inspire.
Interviewed by Tamar Sella, 10/8/2020
Keith Jones is an artist and activist based in Maywood, New Jersey. As an artist, Jones is a rapper, musician, poet, and visual artist. In 1978, he began writing lyrics and performing as a rapper known as Fezo. He has recorded multiple albums including Vocal Tai Chi (2015). He is the co-founder of Krip-Hop Nation, an affiliation of artists around the world with various disabilities seeking to raise artist creativity and inclusion in mediums including music, dance, and poetry. Additionally, Jones is president and CEO of SoulTouchin’ Experiences, an organization that sits at the intersection of public policy, community development, disability, and race. Jones has worked to provide outreach support in relationship to the arts and independent living skills. He was recognized for his leadership by the state of Massachusetts and President’s Commission for Employment for People with Disabilities, as well as the Disability Law Center’s 2011 Individual Leadership Award.
Interviewed by Tamar Sella, 09/30/2020.
Juan Pepe Santana is a musician, educator, and instrument maker based in Stanhope, New Jersey. Born in Ecuador, Pepe moved to the U.S. in the 1960s, where he has performed and taught Andean traditions. Pepe plays over twenty Native wind instruments and multiple string instruments. He founded the Festival of the Andes at Waterloo Village, and directed several Andean festivals at Lincoln Center, Town Hall, and Symphony Space. Pepe has lectured nationally and internationally. He was an artist in residence at the National Museum of the American Indian: Smithsonian Institution, and has delivered workshops on instrument making in venues including the Museum of Natural History. Pepe founded the ensemble INKHAY (Quechua: “to tend the fire”), which interprets traditional music from the Andes Mountains of Bolivia, Peru, and Ecuador. Pepe was a master folk musician in the Apprenticeship Program of the NJSCA, and was awarded the National Merit and Title of Great Gentleman by the Ecuadorian Government.
Interviewed by Tamar Sella, 10/16/2020
Deborah Strauss is a multi-instrumentalist, educator, and dancer of klezmer and Yiddish music. She is a member of the intercontinental group Voices of Ashkenaz and the Yiddish/North German fiddle trio, Figelin. She has performed with the Grammy-winning Klezmatics and appears in the film Theodore Bikel: In the Shoes of Sholom Aleichem. Together with Cantor Jeff Warschauer, she is a member of the Strauss/Warschauer Duo, which has performed in venues such as Great Britain’s Fiddles on Fire and the Jewish Culture Festival in Cracow, Poland. Jeff and Deborah were both longtime members of the Klezmer Conservatory Band, one of the premiere groups of the klezmer revival, and have performed with violinist Itzhak Perlman. They lead Yiddish song and dance workshops throughout North America and Europe and have taught at places such as KlezKamp, KlezKanada, and Yiddish Summer Weimar. Deborah and Jeff are Yiddish speakers, and have researched and collected Yiddish and Hebrew songs and melodies since the 1980s.
Interviewed by Tamar Sella, 09/30/2020.
Tchin (pronounced ‘chin) is a nationally known, multi-award-winning artist. He was born in Norfolk, Virginia and lived in rural Virginia and Rhode Island where he received his early schooling. He attended the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and graduated from Rhode Island School of Design with a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree. He is an accomplished metalsmith, author, flutemaker, educator, lecturer, folklorist, musician, entertainer, and clothes maker. His awards for performance and cultural work include Best of Show in Schemitzun, Connecticut, and Kituwah, North Carolina; Best of Division in the Southwest Museum, California, and Red Earth, Oklahoma; and first prize in the National American Cultural Art Festival, Maryland, as well as the SWAIA Indian Market, New Mexico (6). He lives with his wife and looks forward to many visits from his four daughters and nine grandchildren.
Interviewed by Tamar Sella, 10/19/2020.