by BRITTANY HALL
Like a songbird whose notes become more beautiful with every breath, some people are born with music inside of them. Those whose souls are marked with such an exceptional and diverse characteristic, fully understand the magnificent strength that’s found in the diversities of the world and not in the similarities. As a musician, alum, and more recently a current national title holder, Swainsboro native Terry Andrews embraces the extraordinary talent that lies within him and is inspiring other hopeful artists by simply sharing his incredible abilities with humankind.
“It truly feels amazing!” Andrews said with a beaming smile when asked about how it feels to be in the position that he’s in now, “In many ways my life has come full circle. It feels surreal at times to now be in the same circles as people I have looked up to as a young musician. It feels great to be chasing my dreams and accomplishing the goals I set for myself many years ago.”
As a child, Andrews knew that he wanted to pursue a career in music. His elementary school teacher, the late Rebecca Bailey Lee, first saw a glimpse of the unmatched brilliance that lay inside the vibrant young mind of her student, who excelled in her music classes, every week. As Lee helped him nurture his God given talent and guided him to empower it, he unfolded into a shining star, which allowed him to soar in middle and high school where his band directors, Dr. Gene Hundley and Barry Golden embraced his gifts and gave him the opportunity to run with it. It was during this time that he discovered a newfound love for the flute.
“Thanks to my elementary music teacher the late Rebecca Bailey Lee and directors Dr. Gene Hundley and Barry Golden for being so much more than just educators, but mentors whose gifts of knowledge, wisdom, guidance, and advice have extended well beyond the band room and into my adult life pursuing a doctorate degree in music. I owe so much to them for believing in me and fostering my raw talent and eagerness to do more. Not too many students from Emanuel County go off to study music, but because of their passion and dedication I knew from an early age what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.” He said in reminiscence.
Since graduating from Swainsboro High School, Andrews has earned many incredible titles and trained under some of the nation's top, influential professors and musicians which have contributed to his vast success. He obtained a Bachelor of Music Education from Albany State University, where he studied with Dr. Michael Decuir before going on to earn his Master of Music Performance from Valdosta State University, where he studied under notable flutist and composer, Dr. Elizabeth Goode and music professor, Dr. Daniel Alexander. He later received an Artist Diploma Certificate from the renowned Schwob School of Music at Columbus State University, where he studied with Dr. Andrée Martin. However, even after accomplishing so many admirable distinctions, Andrew's perseverance has proved unwavering, as he is currently pursuing a DMA in Music Performance from the University of Missouri – Kansas City Conservatory of Music and Dance, and devoting himself to the expertise of Professors Michael Gordon and Ebonee Thomas and their classes until he receives his Doctorate.
“I am constantly inspired by the gifts of others. I am inspired by seeing more and more African American people obtaining doctorate degrees in music, winning teaching jobs at major conservatories, winning jobs in major symphony orchestras, and being sought after composers. Representation matters! It is important to see people who look like you achieving greatness so that you know that you too can do it. I hope to join the ranks of those who have come before me and inspire the next generation of musicians.”
Andrews most recent achievement has left the deepest impression on him not only because of the experience but because of the way it has been attributed to the goals that he set for himself as a child.
He took a journey to Nationals over the Summer, where he represented his home state of Georgia, the Eastern Region of the United States and beautiful people just like him. The required repertoire embraced the works of European and American composers while highlighting the contributions of black composers. The competition was held on Sunday, July 10, 2022 at 6:30 p.m., at the Atlanta Airport Marriott Gateway Hotel.
“I first competed in the local level competition of the David I. Martin Music Guild branch of the National Association of Negro Musicians, Inc. where I won first place and $2,000. I advanced to the regional level competition where I was awarded first place and $3,000. I represented the Eastern Region at the national level of the competition for a chance to win the national title and $5,500.” He explained.
At the end of the experience, Andrews not only walked away a First-Place winner at the 2022 NANM Scholarship Competition but also as a First-Place winner at the 2022 NANM Scholarship Regional Competition and as a First-Place winner NANM Scholarship Local Competition. Yet, even with these prestigious, well-deserved titles, he holds an even greater honor as a vision and an idol for children like him, who have dreams just like the one that young Andrews first had in Mrs. Lee’s, Swainsboro Elementary School music class, so many years ago.
“I was overcome with emotions and at a loss for words.” Andrews said, thinking back on that momentous day, “When I hugged my mother, I immediately broke down crying, almost collapsing in her arms. It was such a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. There was an overwhelming sense of pride with me being the only contestant from Georgia and winning in my home state. Even though I've accomplished a lot prior to winning this competition, I used to feel like those accomplishments weren't valid and I had nothing to show for all of the work I had put in. I was seeing all of my friends and colleagues win and succeed and I felt small, but at that moment I knew it was my time and season.”
Andrews, will never be trivial but will always be an inspiration to so many, especially to those of us who are here at home. To add to all of his remarkable endeavors and accomplishments, Andrews also just completed his fellowship with the United States Air Force Band where he was featured in the Diversity Fellowship Spotlight after being selected as their recipient, from a pool of over 50 applicants. When announcing his selection as a fellowship diversity recipient, the United States Airforce Band said this of Andrews:
“Mr. Andrews’ exciting performance career as a student and professional freelance musician includes experiences in chamber groups, orchestras, wind bands, jazz ensembles, and pits. He is the former principal flutist of Orchestra Noir, Atlanta’s African-American Orchestra and has performed with the Valdosta Symphony Orchestra. He has also performed alumni recitals at Albany State University as well as been a feature performer with the Symphonic Band. He has premiered a piece composed by Dr. Julián Brijaldo at the College Music Society Composers Conference and is currently the flutist for the Plaza Winds Graduate Fellowship Quintet at UMKC. He is also a flutist with Pinnacle Winds, a professional wind band in Kansas City, MO. Mr. Andrews has been afforded the opportunity to perform in masterclasses for Valerie Coleman, Christina Smith, John Bailey, Ransom Wilson, Nancy Schneeloch-Bingham, Leslie Mars, Ebonee Thomas, Doris Spooner-Hall, Elise Blatchford, James Hall, Eva Amsler, Amy Likar, Amy Porter, Göran Marcusson, Alice Dade, Jim Walker, and Demarre McGill.”
Finding passion in what you do, means that everything else in your career and life will fall into place. Andrews, who understands the depth and importance of what it means to strive and strive again until you’re where you want to be in life, says that the keys to success are; “patience, persistence, and perseverance. Success is not comparing and/or measuring your own success to someone else’s. To me success is always doing your best, believing you can, celebrating the small victories, overcoming fear, not giving into doubt, and never giving up.”
He also shared that he’s been blessed to have such an amazing support system who has been with him since the beginning of his journey, and that because of this voyage, he’s gained lifelong friends and many advocates who he’ll cherish for the rest of his life.
“I am grateful to have many people who have supported me along my journey from Swainsboro as well as connections I have made once I left. I would like to thank my parents, my best friend Reginald Corbie, Dr. Gene Hundley, Barry Golden, Erma Jenkins, Dr. Sonji Leach, Bobby Andrews, Brice Hobbs, Kathy Andrews, Dr. Michael Decuir, Dr. Mimi Noda, Jesse Walker, Dr. Alfonzo Cooper Jr., Dr. Andrée Martin, Ricardo Corbie, Dr. Jennifer Grim, Valerie Coleman, and Steve Davis. This list could go on for days. I am very thankful for anyone who has sown a seed into my life whether it was spiritually, mentally, or financially.” He said with a grateful heart.
Before our interview concluded, Andrews wanted to leave a very special message for any teens or young adults who may be struggling with their identity:
“Embrace what makes you different. You are not meant to blend in with everyone else; you were meant to stand out. Be your authentic self and never jeopardize your individuality. Surround yourself with people who love and support you. Take advantage of every opportunity you have to grow. Do not get complacent because everyone around you is. The worst thing you can do is tell your big dreams to a small-minded person.”
Mr. Andrews truly embodies the quote by Pelé, who said; ‘Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do.’
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