Monday, October 10, 2011

Grossmont College alum scores big at jazz competition

Joshua White performing at the Thelonius Monk International Jazz Competition
Photo by Elisa Kommins Morris

             It was just a few years ago that Joshua White decided to pursue his passion of playing jazz piano, spending hours listening to jazz greats like Herbie Hancock.
                But when White, 26,  placed second in the prestigious Theolonius Monk International Jazz Competition in September 2011, it was Hancock who came to him offering praise following White’s performance at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.
                “He said I inspired him,” White said.
                White studied piano for years, but he said his two years at Grossmont College played an important role in his development as a musician. He majored in music theory and played in the Grossmont orchestra and the college’s music ensembles until he transferred to San Diego State University in 2005.
               “It’s about the people,” White said of his experience at Grossmont. “It definitely put me in a position to meet individuals who shaped my path. It was a great experience learning from different types of people.”

                Steve Baker, Grossmont’s dean of arts, humanities and language/communication, described White as a brilliant piano player.
                “He was a fabulous performer,” Baker said. “What he got from us was a higher level of technical training.”
                White used that training to submit his entry to the jazz competition, and was one of 12 young artists from around the world who were selected to perform at the Kennedy Center. In addition to winning $10,000 for his second-place prize, White and the other two winners also got to meet President Barack Obama.
                White said he’s now hoping to use the national exposure from the jazz competition to begin a career in jazz in New York City.
                “If I want to do something, why not try it now?” he said.