The Gifted Andrae Campbell: Musician with a heart
Carl Gilchrist, Gleaner Writer
It's a joy to hear Andrae Campbell play the piano. Never mind that he plays 15 instruments, the Chopin, Bach and Oscar Peterson-inspired and still very young multi-instrumentalist has been playing for three decades.
He mixes genres as he has a mind, and masters the sounds that come from the keyboards. His gift comes from God, he says. However, he perfected his craft at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts, and has done a lot over the years, teaching people to play instruments, ministering through music and bringing joy to those who hear and watch him play. For him, though, the journey has just begun.
"I am a God-gifted pianist," Campbell describes himself. "I have to recognise God's gift and what I've done with it and still doing with it; a pianist who has a ministry playing in Jamaica, out of Jamaica, wherever needed. Bringing people together, playing as a solo pianist as well as an ensemble." His ensemble includes the wind and brass sections and percussion, enabling him to provide just about any demand for entertainment.
His discography includes two self-produced albums, Simply Sacred and Standard Deviation, both of which were released in 2011, and have gained good responses.
Entertainment Avenue caught up with Campbell after he just finished performing at an event in St Ann earlier this week, where he wowed his audience, performing from Marley to Louis Armstrong. He sought to explain the impact that his musical ability has on his audiences.
"It's all about the different spice, extracting something from different genres. I grew up with choral music, my mom brought that into my life, my father brought jazz into my life."
His mother is pianist Myrna Joyce Campbell and his father the late Louis Campbell. "My father didn't play a note, but what he did was play the records for me, so I could hear the different styling, the different instrumentations, and he would coach me along the way and give me that exposure," he recalled.
"There's no limit when you're gifted, and of course God is a practical God, so you must practice. I have been experimenting playing different instruments, for example, the violin. I took it up and played a scale, for example, and from you can play a scale you can play a melody, then the technique is what you continue to practise."
Campbell has graced the stage at many big events in Jamaica, including the Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival, accompanying an artiste from Miami, and the Ocho Rios Jazz Festival, where he received solo billing. And there have been countless small events where his mastery has been called upon to be exhibited. He also sings a little, but hopes to do even more in the future. He looks forward to the future.
"I hope to revive live music in Jamaica and also take what has been given unto me, internationally as well. I have travelled and I hope to do more travelling as a concert pianist, that's on the agenda," he said.
With his gift from God, Campbell, who was brought up in the Moving Church of God in Runaway Bay, St Ann, feels the need to give even more to the people of the world.
"I pretty much want to take my music throughout Jamaica, to touch people who can't even afford to get a lesson, but they're talented. The limelight is there and it's good to be recognised, but I want to go into the country, spread the music, which I'm doing, to those who can't afford it. Internationally, I want to spread the joy all over, nation to nation, all over the world, collaborate with some other persons, bring people together and raise money for schools. Strengthen institutions - some churches don't have an organist, there's nobody there to play, there's not a choir established to bring that ministry in there. I want to help people, to heal sick, help persons going through depression, show them there is a way, to uplift their soul. That's important for me," Campbell said.