HARLEM, Manhattan -- In 2021 the trumpeter Terence Blanchard became the first African American composer ever to have an opera staged at The Metropolitan Opera, and another he wrote called "Champion," set in the world of boxing, open at The Met April 10.
He's been nominated for an Oscar twice thanks to his work on movie scores for director Spike Lee, but Blanchard is never too busy to give back.
Eyewitness News met him again at The Harlem School of The Arts (HSA) where he came to inspire the next generation of musicians.
The late musician Hank Williams famously said you should "never get so old you forget to grow young," and Blanchard embodies that principle.
"If I can help any of these kids be inspired about being a musician or creating their own music, you gotta do it," he told Entertainment Reporter Sandy Kenyon while listening to a rehearsal in the new Herb Alpert Center at HSA.
The great trumpeter and hitmaker donated money to build the room where Blanchard now demonstrates his virtuosity on the trumpet for students there.
"Talent is the seed, the only thing that gets you there is the work," is his message this day. "Talent gets you in the door. Work keeps you there."
Blanchard was teaching a master class alongside the great opera soprano Latonia Moore.
When Blanchard was asked what could be achieved in a single class he responded, "The main thing is to show them I'm just like them. I'm no different than them. I had the same level of anxiety and the same level of fear about what was gonna happen with my future."
HSA has been energized by a dynamic new leader, James C. Horton.
The President and CEO observed that having these artists, "doing the master class here just further reinforces the different pathways our students can take to achieving artistic excellence."
One of the HSA students has an achieved great success already. Dancer Walter Russell III has starred on Broadway, as Little Michael Jackson in "MJ: The Musical," and has been featured in the historic Met performances of Blanchard's opera, "Fire Shut Up in My Bones."
"Being back here where I started a couple of years ago is, is kind of life coming around full circle," he said. "This place has meant so much to me, and this is definitely a big part of my life to this day still."
HSA's founder, Dorothy Maynor, imagined a place where young people could "make beauty" in their own community, and the world class facility is now attracting the world's greatest talents to come to Harlem to mentor young people there.
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