Thursday, February 18, 2010

Band Class with Wallace Roney

I played percussions in middle school and in 7th grade, I stumbled into an opportunity — auditioning for the then-new Duke Ellington School for the Arts in DC, which had opened the year prior. I passed the audition and got in, and I became Duke Ellington's first female drummer. I sat in band class with Wallace Roney. Not long ago Wallace's brother Antoine told me that Roy Hargrove was also at Ellington at that time. But crazy as it sounds, I have no memory of him.

But I remember Wallace clearly. He was a very nice, really quiet and unassuming, and very serious about music. He was very humble — didn't at all act like he was a hotshot, even though several lesser musicians at the school did.

Back in those days (early 70s) Duke Ellington had a very liberal environment. But Wallace seemed to have no interest in being with the 'cool' kids, or getting involved with anything that didn't support his musical pursuits.

I didn't finish my high school years at Duke Ellington, and the next time I saw Wallace was when he performed where I worked, at a jazz club in DC, the now-defunct Charlie's Georgetown (named after part-owner Charlie Byrd.) It was amazing to see what he had worked so hard for, and I then understood why he had no interest in the shenanigans going on around him in high school — he was on a mission, and he wasn't going to let anything distract him.

No comments:

Post a Comment