MUSIC IS YOUR DESTINY: INTERVIEW WITH DESTINY MUHAMMAD~ “HARPIST FROM DA’ HOOD”


posted by Robert J. Carmack ~ @blues2jazzguy -You know its very hard to find a word that describes a person perfectly, but I just may have. what I mean is, I googled the word Destiny and it read, ” the events that will necessarily happen to a particular person or thing in the future. Also, “the hidden power believed to control what will happen in the future; fate. HOWEVER. Sometimes if you’re lucky and say your prayers, you just might meet a talented, sublime musician who happens to play a very unique instrument in a small community of players within a special genre..the original art form of America, JAZZ.

Destiny Muhammad is a Recording/ Performing Artist | Band Leader | Composer & Producer. Her genre is Celtic to Coltrane is cool and eclectic with a feel of Jazz & storytelling to round out the sonic experience.  The original harp is one of the world’s oldest instrument and toughest to master, even more challenging than the piano its self. when I was growing up in Los Angeles and studying music as a teenager I wanted to learn jazz and sought out all kinds of musicians besides saxophone players to listen and learn from. One of those unique musicians was a lady name, Dorothy Ashby, who played the harp, but not just in a classical music setting,but onstage with jazz hungry fans , in clubs, cultural arts centers and later, concert halls late 1960s through the 1980s.
(Dorothy Ashby August 6, 1930 – April 13, 1986)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dorothy Ashby was Destiny’s big influence early on long before Alice Coltrane’s huge shadow loomed large in her life. But what was really a “head-scratcher” for me was when she mentioned in an interview I held with her recently. While as a child watching TV, a man with wild hair and zany behavior. He abruptly stopped and stared at a Harp momentarily, then sat down and begun to play a beautiful solo. She was watching a famous scene from a “Marx Brothers” film. That was just the spark needed in her little head. She went wow! I would like to play that. As a little girl growing up in the Compton community and going to Tibby elementary school. Destiny could only dream, as her mom had very little money and instruments were not in the cards. Even later as she grew up and tried to learn the violin, it did not “cut it for her.” Things were changing at home and her mom moved to San Pedro area projects for low-income, about the time for her to go to high school, she joined a vocal choir and wanted to take piano lessons but again was told they could not afford lesson. Frustrated but not deterred from her dream, Destiny became a barber, a good one too, which gave her independence and decision making power to pursue whatever she wanted.  But before she knew it, she was approaching 30 years old and needed to sink or swim.making up her mind to go for it musically she began her journey as a harp player by beginning with the rudimentary method of mastering an instrument late in life. A very challenging endeavor, but none the less not impossible. She moved to Oakland East Bay area and sought out help, advice, direction. After a tad bit of finding her niche’, she found people like trumpeter Khalid Shaheed, pianist Tammy Hall and the legendary trumpeter Eddie Gale among many others. Now over 25 years later, she is being blessed beyond words. Not worrying about how long it took, but what she is doing now that she has arrived.

Destiny has opened for The Oakland East Bay Symphony and Smooth Jazz Artist Gerald Albright, shared the stage with Jazz Masters Marcus Shelby, Omar Sosa, Blue Note Artist Ambrose Akisemuire, and Azar Lawrence to name a few. She has headlined for ‘Women in Jazz’ Concert series, the Afro Solo/ Yerba Buena Gardens Concert Festival, Sunday’s in the Redwoods Concert, Fest Sundiata, and SFJAZZ Tribute to Alice Coltrane’s epic album Impulse Release ‘Journey in  Satchidananda .

Destiny is the Principal Harpist for the Eddie Gale Inner Peace Orchestra, the Oakland Community Orchestra and performs with The AWESOME Orchestra.

The Destiny Muhammad JAZZ Trio~Following in the footsteps of jazz harp master Dorothy Ashby (who recorded with everyone from Freddie Hubbard and Frank Wess to Bill Withers and Stevie Wonder), the Destiny Muhammad Jazz Trio is a sleek and soulful ensemble designed to showcase Muhammad’s soaring vocals and transporting string work. 

That second and most highly touted Jazz musician, pianist, composer and master harpist, the late Alice Coltrane. A profound influence on Destiny as a musician, composer but, also as a woman in a male-dominated genre. She has been given high praises by her peers and fellow bay area jazz musicians, as well as prestigious arts organization and music societies.

Whether interpreting jazz standards or her original tunes, Muhammad turns every piece into a soulful adventure.      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hora0U6vvDw

 

A plethora of achievements and awards received in a little over 25 years after not even starting until she was 30 years old on her instrument. Governor Emeritus and Educational Chair Emeritus of the Recording Academy, Jazz Heritage Center of San Francisco Jazz Ambassador,  ASCAP Songwriter Awardee, and Judge for The West Coast Songwriters Contest and Northern California Entertainers Music Awards Female Jazz Artist of the Year.

I asked Destiny what was her greatest joy in music? she said with glee, “That I’m still playing after starting late at 30 and taking that leap of faith. You can follow Destiny’s career and keep up with her gigs by going to her website:http://destinymuhammad.com

If you missed her moving tribute to the great Alice Coltrane the first time,  see information below for tickets and or general information regarding the Concert, Alice Coltrane~Sonic Legacy August 26, 2018 – two shows only!

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