Author: Laura Bowen
Last Tuesday evening, renowned jazz musician and author of the New York Times best seller, The Color of Water, James McBride, performed in Upper Herrick. McBride was a music major at Oberlin College before graduating from Columbia with a master’s degree in journalism. In addition to his best-seller, McBride has published articles in The Washington Post, The New York Times, Rolling Stone, and many others. He is currently a Distinguished-Writer-in-Residence at New York University.
In a presentation before his performance, McBride explained that success was not the motivation behind writing his book. “I basically just do what I like to do . . . There is nothing special about me and what I have allegedly accomplished,” McBride said. “Music is my work. Writing is my work. I don’t have a job, I just work.”
McBride stressed that doing what makes you happy is key. Going to college, he said, would not necessarily help students find a career. “Don’t come here and use this place as a prep place to get a job . . . there are no jobs waiting for you.”
Instead, he advised students to pursue their passions. “A life of fulfillment is to move towards what you like to do,” McBride said.
McBride also addressed the Obama administration and the change in political climate, saying, “We live in a very difficult time and difficult times require difficult choices.”
However, he acknowledged the role that the new generation played in the recent election. “I’m really happy that so many young people decided to take the initiative and move our country to the next level of discourse,” he said.
After his address, McBride performed several numbers with his band, The James McBride Jazz Ensemble. McBride performed on both the saxophone and the piano, showcasing his broad musical range. The set included a song McBride had written for his sister, and a song about college titled, “Don’t Wait ‘Til It’s Too Late.”
Between songs, McBride attributed his affinity for music to his religious background. “Growing up in the church gave me a love of music and a love of jazz and a love of God,” he said.
He wound down his set with a rendition of the national anthem.
McBride’s performance roused a lot of enthusiasm from the students in attendance.”Beyond expectations. Far beyond expectations,” Robert Jordan (sophomore) said of McBride.
“He kept his actual speeches very short which was good and his advice was pretty down to earth and simple – but also logical,” Emily Ritchie (sophomore) said.
Overall, his words made a strong impression on the student body.
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