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Well, I started conducting kind of by accident. I wanted to give myself a special birthday present for my fortieth birthday, and I was living in San Francisco at the time and I started attending some of the concerts and then simply dropping hints.
Then when I was in grammar school I played the clarinet, and then, after clarinet I played the flute in college orchestra - besides singing in the college chorus and things like that.
Then I left that school and I went to Cerritos College, which was in southern California; they had one of the best big band programs in the country at the time.
Then I came up with this crazy idea just to walk out on the stage with no band at all and just start singing whatever came to mind. I actually fought the idea for a while because it seemed almost too radical, but it became obvious what I was supposed to be doing.
The true musician is to bring light into people's hearts.
Seriously though, my father was the first African American to sign a contract with the Metropolitan Opera so I grew up with classical music and jazz in the home all the time.
Part of our responsibility as parents, as adults, is to set examples for children. But we have to like children in order to be really happy fulfilled adults.
My father was a very disciplined singer who worked hard at his craft, and I was around that growing up.
My biggest musical influences are probably my parents.
Miles Davis turned his back to the audience when he came out on stage, and he offended people. But, he wasn't there to entertain; he was all about the music. I kind of do that.
It's not that I don't love the song. My songs are like my children: some you want around and some you want to send off to college as soon as possible.
If I can bring joy into the world, if I can get people to stop thinking about their pain for a moment, or the fact the tomorrow morning they're going to get up and tell their boss off... then I'll be successful.
I'd actually been making my living as an organist with bands since I was probably 15 or 16 years old, and then as a senior in high school I put together a jazz quintet called The Bobby Mack Jazz Quintet.
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