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Positive Vibrations HeartBeat Award (Musician): Dr. Michael White

Renowned and multiple-award-winning clarinetist, composer and educator Dr. Michael White came to learn that just performing New Orleans jazz was not enough. Part of the deal was carrying on the tradition for future generations.

“It came as a result of circumstances,” White explains. “I was playing with a lot of older musicians [born between the late 1890s and 1910] and at the time many of them got sick and started dying out so I ended up having a lot of hospital visits. The thing that started recurring over and over, which I found strange at the time, was that a lot of them would say stuff like, ‘It’s up to you to keep this music going.’ I thought it was really strange that somebody was dying and they were thinking about music.”

In time, White began to comprehend traditional jazz’s importance in this city’s culture that went beyond the music’s entertainment value.

“What I came to realize, is that one of the liberating forces of the music when it originated was to help black people overcome this imposed status of invisibility,” he says.

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