A Word with Byron Stripling
What are your fondest musical memories?
My father is a classical singer who initially inspired my love of all types of music. We heard classical, jazz, Motown and anything else that was good. Church on Sunday was an all day event because my father was the choir director and my mother a Sunday school teacher . I’ll never forget that feeling of community and the songs of hope and optimism we used to sing like, “Move On Up A Little Higher,” “We’ve Come This Far By Faith,” and “He’ll Understand & Say Well Done” plus countless others that live deep in my heart to this day.
On rare occasions, we would have a full family gathering. Collard greens with ham hocks, pork chops, red beans and rice flavored with bacon drippings (bacon drippings were saved on a small tin can on top of the stove – this was way before they invented cholesterol!) and pound cakes would be everywhere. After the meal, my Aunt would play piano while we sang hymns. She could play ANY hymn you requested. I remember asking her why she never used music and she said, “Honey I don’t know nothin’ about reading any music.” Later in music school they told me that wasn’t possible!
Gospel music affected me so much that one of the first things I did when I became artistic director of the Columbus Jazz Orchestra was a concert with the big band and full gospel choir. It was kind of my way of thanking and acknowledging my parents for a great childhood.
What is your favorite part of bringing the music of Louis Armstrong to life?
Louis Armstrong always said, “I’m here in the cause of happiness.” His music, as well as the rhythm, beat, and spirit of New Orleans, continues to influence all genres of music. Like all jazz musicians, our goal is to honor the gift of Louis & Ella’s music and use it to find our own unique voices which we hope will inspire and uplift the audiences all over the world.Newsletter Oct18