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TAA Musings

“Musings” is a time of thoughtful inspiration and introspection built into the heart of the busy Academy schedule each day. All participants assemble to think about the role of the arts in education and in life. At each Musings session, an individual who is significantly involved in the arts acts as a muse and leads the group in examining the richness and depth that the arts add to the lives of all people.

2022 Tennessee Arts Academy Musers
July 11, 2022
1:20 pm

Throughout his distinguished career, Marvin Stamm has been praised for both the art and craft of his trumpet playing. Jazz critic, Leonard Feather said that “Mr. Stamm is an accomplished performer whose technical skill is used as a means to stimulating original ends.” While attending North Texas State University, Stamm was discovered by Stan Kenton. After graduation, he joined Kenton’s orchestra and toured with him as their jazz trumpet soloist, in addition to recording five albums with the group. From 1965 to 1966, Stamm toured worldwide with Woody Herman. In late 1966, Stamm settled in New York, where he quickly established himself as a busy jazz and studio trumpeter. He gained considerable recognition for his playing with the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra and the Duke Pearson Big Band, as well his performances with Frank Sinatra and the Benny Goodman Sextet. He also did a number of recordings with various rock and rhythm and blues artists, including Paul McCartney, James Brown, Bette Midler, Burt Bacharach, Dionne Warwick, Barry Manilow, and the Rolling Stones. Eschewing the lucrative studio scene in the late 80s, Stamm focused his attention on his first love—playing jazz. Since then, he has been a member of John Lewis’s American Jazz Orchestra, the Bob Mintzer Band, the George Gruntz Concert Jazz Band, and Louis Bellson’s big band and quintet. Acknowledging his debt to the influence of former teachers and musicians, Stamm has spent a good deal of time and energy helping young music students develop their own voices. His involvement in jazz education has taken him to universities and high schools across the country and abroad as a performer, clinician, and mentor. Through this work, he continues to pass on the traditions that jazz represents. Over the years, Stamm has released numerous albums and CDs. He currently co-leads a quartet with pianist Mike Holober. The quartet includes drummer Dennis Mackrel and bassist Mike McGuirk.  Critical response to Stamm’s work has been highly enthusiastic. JazzTimes writes, “The Memphis native has chops and talent in abundance. He can burn on bebop changes, or mellow out on a ballad, all the time maintaining the lucid consistency that enthusiasm and experience engenders.” Jazz Review states, “It is a pleasure listening to the work of Marvin Stamm, anytime! Stamm is a musician's musician, performing flawlessly on his trumpet and flugelhorn.”

July 12, 2022
1:20 pm

Nikkolas Smith is a native of Houston, Texas. He received his master of architecture degree from Hampton University. After designing theme parks at Walt Disney Imagineering for eleven years, he is now an ARTivist, concept artist, children’s book author, film illustrator (Space Jam 2, Black Panther 2, and Judah and the Black Messiah), and movie poster designer (Black Panther, Soul, Beale Street, Southside with You, Dear White People, and Stranger Fruit). He is the author and illustrator of the picture books The Golden Girls of Rio, which was nominated for an NAACP Image Award, My Hair is Poofy and That’s Okay, and World Cup Women. His latest illustrated picture book, The 1619 Project: Born on the Water was created in collaboration with Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones and Renée Watson and was number one on the New York Times bestseller list. Smith is a proud 2016 White House Innovators of Color Fellow. Smith’s most famous and recognized works focus on Artivism. As an illustrator of color, he creates captivating art that can spark conversations about social justice in today’s world and inspire meaningful change. Many of his viral and globally published sketches are included in his latest book Sunday Sketch: The Art of Nikkolas, a visual journey on life and a collection of more than one hundred sketches he’s done in the last five years. His works have been featured in Time magazine, The New York Times, The Washington Post, People, CNN, Buzzfeed, NPR, the Academy of Motion Pictures, The Guardian, ABC, NBC, KCET, and many other publications and media sites. His art has been shared on social media by Michelle Obama, President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, Van Jones, Shaun King, Rihanna, Colin Kaepernick, Janet Jackson, Viola Davis, Jamie Foxx, Erykah Badu, Lupita Nyong’o, Kendrick Lamar, Ava Duvernay, Common, Simone Biles, Mark Ruffalo, and many others. Smith often speaks at schools, and conferences such as TEDxWatts, and leads workshops in digital painting character and movie poster design. He currently lives in Los Angeles, California.

Past Tennessee Arts Academy Musers

Well-known Musers who have spoken at the Tennessee Arts Academy in the past include Broadway composers Charles Strouse (Annie), Marvin Hamlisch (A Chorus Line), Andrew Lippa (The Addams Family) and Henry Krieger (Dreamgirls); concert pianist Lorin Hollander; lyricists Sheldon Harnick (Fiddler on the Roof), Dean Pitchford (Fame), and Joe DiPietro (Memphis); costume designer Patricia Zipprodt (My Fair Lady); authors Wilma Dykeman and Will D. Campbell; theatre critic John Simon; conductors Michael Stern, Isaiah Jackson, Giancarlo Guerrero, Anton Armstrong, and Robert Bernhardt; author and illustrator Peter H. Reynolds (The Dot); educator Graham Down; Emmy and Tony award-winning actress Cherry Jones; Shakespearean directors Adrian Hall and Tina Packer; Hollywood composers Richard Sherman (Mary Poppins) and George S. Clinton (Austin Powers); visual artists Audrey Flack, Dorothy Gillespie, Jon Moody, Charles Brindley, Dolph Smith, Alan Lequire, Harold Gregor, and Sylvia Hyman; Broadway directors Scott Ellis (1776), Jeff Calhoun (Newsies), and Richard Maltby, Jr. (Fosse); opera stars Mignon Dunn and Christine Brewer; New Yorker cartoonist Robert Mankoff; poet Nikki Giovanni; Tony award-winning playwright Christopher Durang (Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike); bandleader and musician Doc Severinsen (The Tonight Show); classical composer Libby Larsen; scenic and costume designer Tony Walton; stage combat director David Leong (Carousel); filmmaker Jay Russell (My Dog Skip); three-time Tony Award-winning composer and lyricist Jason Robert Brown (The Bridges of Madison County); Broadway musical theatre stars Bryce Pinkham (A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder), Stephanie J. Block (Wicked) Marin Mazzie (Ragtime), Jason Danieley (The Full Monty), Rebecca Luker, (The Secret Garden), Alton Fitzgerald White (The Lion King), Laura Osnes (Cinderella), and Aaron Lazar (The Light in the Piazza); television writer and producer Marc Cherry (Golden Girls, Desperate Housewives); author, composer, and lyricist Rupert Holmes (The Mystery of Edwin Drood) and many others.

Please check back regularly for updates and information about the 2022 Tennessee Arts Academy.