With a style that's been described as a cross between "Marvin Gaye and Miles Davis," Johnny Britt is an accomplished trumpeter/songwriter/singer/vocal coach/arranger and producer. Founder of the group Impromp2, Britt is now going it alone and doing quite fine having toured with the likes of Josh Groban and Maxwell. Discerning audiences have remained in awe with his message-oriented, jazz and r&b sound.
Still going strong with 20 years in the business, Britt humbly discusses his gifts and offers advice for parents on what it takes for their kids to have longevity in the music business.
A. The church is who I am. The foundation from the church helps to keep me grounded, to have the faith and believe in the talents that the Lord has blessed me with. Lastly, to have tough skin and have a made-up mind that I can achieve my dreams.
Q2. What was it about the trumpet that "speaks" to your soul?
A. The trumpet is a special instrument...first of all; it's a spiritual instrument that's all in the bible. You can't fool the trumpet...it will let you know if you're faking it. It speaks to my soul because of the pure tone and emotions that can be generated from the instrument if executed properly.
Q3. You were invited to study at the Versailles Conservatory of Music (just outside Paris, France.) Please share the journey to get there, the audition process, etc. Is it something that other young people should seriously consider?
A. The opportunity for me to study trumpet in France changed my whole world. I was among serious trumpet players from around the world. I had the great honor to study under Roger Delmotte who was the first trumpet player in the Paris Opera Orchestra. Studying under him, I really got the proper foundation that it takes to execute the trumpet for any style of playing.
I actually went to live in Paris with my sister and brother-in-law....that's how I got there. The audition process was like any other where you have to prepare a classical piece and perform it. Now, there are grants and scholarship opportunities to study abroad you can inquire about via the internet.
Yes, I would highly recommend studying abroad as the world will open up for you musically and culturally through that kind of experience.
A. Well, I met Ella Fitzgerald, Cat Anderson, Ray Charles, Woody Shaw, Archie Shepp, The Art Ensemble of Chicago, Kenny Clark, Richard Williams, the list goes on. Meeting and hanging out those legends will make you grow.
Q5. You received a full scholarship to attend Governor's State University in Illinois. Please describe the education you received there?
A. My major was in Music Performance so I studied piano, trumpet and arranging, composition and electronic music. They had a very good music department.
Q6. Otis Williams of The Temptations was instrumental in getting you signed to the legendary Motown label. What was the experience like for you as an artist during your Impromp2 days?
A. Otis Williams was the major break for me "breaking into" the entertainment business. I first signed as a solo artist through The Temptations production company to Motown, and then as a recording artist with the group I founded, Impromp2.
The experience with Impromp2 was great, first of all because it was a concept and a vision that I had that became a reality. Secondly, because I worked with some of the hottest people in the music industry, even today.
Q7. With so many schools skimping on music classes, how would you suggest that parents help their kids who may wish to pursue this field? What are some key things they must know?
A. I have two kids of my own and they are 15 years old and 13 years old. They both started piano lessons when they were 5 years old. I had my oldest in a music program at age 2.
Bottom line is that you have to go after it for your child and see if there's an interest. Also, exposing them to good music: jazz, classical music, taking them to concerts is important. Let them see young people play in orchestras and jazz bands.
A. From some of them, I've learned how to be humble and consistent. From some others, I've learned not to be arrogant and "big headed."
Q9. You've been in the business for nearly 20 years. What are some key concepts for young people to know from both the music and business standpoint to have that kind of longevity?
A. You have to know that your craft means studying music. I think that piano and theory are essential. Know that there's a big world out there and music of all kinds plays an important part. You have to know that there's more ways to make a good living in music than having a #1 hit on the radio. Study the business side as well as there are plenty of books that can educate you about the music business.
Q10. Is there anything else that you would like to share?
A. If you say to yourself, "I'm gonna give it a try for a year or two," my advice would be for you to choose another profession.
To order Johnny Britt's music, please visit his website: www.johnnybritt.com or at iTunes. Johnny Britt endorses and plays Getzen Trumpets and is is available for workshops, seminars and performances. To make arrangements, please contact Arlene Flores at http://www.johnnybritt.com
CARING IS SHARING! If you enjoyed this interview, TELL other people in your network by clicking on the social media buttons below. FOLLOW me on Twitter and LinkedIn. GET on my mailing list for future updates. ENCOURAGE independent media by becoming a supporter.