I am a song composer as well as an arranger of lyrics. I have been performing for at least 10 years, mostly independent work in the fields of reggae, hip hop, jungle, drum ‘n’ bass and dubstep. I’m also associated with the Universal Zulu Nation. I’ve performed at the Times Square Art Center, Rutgers Stadium in Newark and most recently at the Sapphire Lounge on the Lower East Side. I was brought into Local 802 by Morgan Bobby Robinson himself so I would like to think that I’m doing something right by joining the union. I’ve created my own label (Jungle Lion Entertainment) and my own management (Indelible Inc.) since good and fair help is hard to find.
—Michael F.B. Brown a/k/a Hugga ReddaBlack
I joined Local 802 because I think it will make me more visible in the music scene and give me access to more musician-friendly resources. My musical goal in New York City is to lead my own band and play with other musicians who inspire me. I would also like to teach. My most recent gig was at The Shrine in Harlem with my band, the Trevor Long Group. I got it by emailing The Shrine directly. I play trombone.
I joined Local 802 so that I could work on Broadway. I am a pianist/vocalist; I worked as a sub for “In the Heights” and I currently sub the keyboard #1 part in “Mary Poppins” on Broadway.
I joined Local 802 because I did a number of theatre jobs through AFM Local 325 in San Diego (“Working” and “Sammy” at the Old Globe Theatre, and “Bonnie & Clyde” at the La Jolla Playhouse), before I moved to Brooklyn a year ago. Union gigs always make for the best jobs in the music industry, and I am proud to become a member of 802 I’m understudying with local theatre bassists for parts in Broadway and Off Broadway shows. Reading and doubling was always a strong quality of my playing, and it’s been a lifelong dream of mine to perform on Broadway. I am currently on the road (on average, two weeks per month) with Miss Tess, a Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter and guitarist. A drummer friend of mine from New England Conservatory (where I graduated in 2006) recommended me for the gig when I moved to town. I play upright bass, with electric as a double.
Why did I join Local 802? In today’s economy, I feel as though it is more important than ever to be part of an organization that represents musicians and defends them. Many programs are continually making budget cuts, specifically to the arts, and orchestras are continually taking advantage of their musicians (pay cuts, shorter seasons, etc.). Without the help of the union, many musicians would be put in compromising positions: having to choose between their life’s passion or giving up the career that they’ve pursued their entire lives just so they can afford to make ends meet. I am currently a bassoon student at Juilliard, and, while I do depend on gigs as supplementary income, I hope to one day make a career out of performing in NYC. At the moment I am trying to learn the most I can from the many successful musicians I interact with, listen to concerts, and make myself a better musician. Most recently, I performed J.S. Bach’s B Minor Mass at Carnegie Hall with L’Ensemble Médical, a doctor’s orchestra from Germany performing a benefit concert for the Doctors Without Borders program in Haiti. They were in need of an extra bassoonist, and contacted one of our orchestra managers at Juilliard. The message got down to me, and I was glad to help them. It was really inspiring to work with musicians whose primary life focus wasn’t music, and to see how passionate they were about raising money for their charity.
—R. Conrad Cornelison