GoodBrothers! Ulysses Owens, Jr

The GoodBrothers! is a new feature for SistersSpace.  In this column, we will feature positive black men from jazz musicians to entrepreneurs. Our inaugural GoodBrother! is Grammy Award winning jazz musician, Ulysses Owens, Jr. If you would like to recommend a GoodBrother!, click here.

 

Ulysses Owens, Jr

How did you get started in the music industry?

I started playing music when I was 2 years old in Church by happenstance. My mother is a choir director and father is a sound guy so I was sat near the drums as a way they could keep an eye on me. Apparently when the rehearsal was on break, I got on the drums and started playing. Thus the journey into the music industry began as my love for the music began to grow.

What inspired you to follow your dreams?

…[The] my love for the music has propelled me to choose nothing else. I have been fortunate to be successful in this business, but I was prepared to follow this dream despite the outcome. When you love what you do, you’ll never have to work a day in your life.

What was it like to win a Grammy?

Winning a Grammy is great, though I don’t have a trophy; I merely acquired a certificate (that I have not received yet). It is a great feeling to know you were a part of musical presentation that is Grammy worthy, but I can’t say that at this point that it changed my life. If I were Esperanza Spalding, then I would probably be speaking with a different tune J.

What is life on the road like?

Life on the Road

 

Life on the road is amazing because you get a chance to meet great people all over the world and you also get to experience the relativity of the world. All places think and move the same and breath and eat the same but in may be in a different context. So it’s beautiful to see how the world is simply different yet the same.

What is one the highs of the lifestyle you have chosen?

The high’s of the life I have chosen is that every day I am doing what I dreamed of J. Now all of the stuff you have to endure to preserve the highs is worth it. You get to make money, and a living doing what you love. There are no other highs.

What advice can you give to someone that wants to pursue a career in music?

To pursue a career in music you have to be certain that you want to deal with everything that comes your way, like any career choice. There are going to be pros and cons.  In a music career you have to deal with challenges but if you have a clear vision of what you desire then you’ll be able to endure through anything.

What projects are you currently working on?

Well, I am now fully functioning in three different areas now. A Musician, Producer and Educator.

As a musician I have released my debut cd “It’s Time For U”, available on iTunes, Amazon, and CD Baby.

It's Time For U

As a producer, I just released my first CD with the artist Matthew Rybicki, and it’s also available on iTunes as well. I just finished recording, and producing this project for another amazing artist Mike Cottone, Juilliard Grad that will be released in August ’11.  I have a few more CD’s I will be producing as the year continues to unfold. I also am touring with Kurt Elling, Christian McBride, and Nicholas Payton globally.  You can see me in action with them.

As an educator my family I formed a non-profit organization, “Don’t Miss A Beat, Inc, which utilizes the performing arts as a means of educating inner-city children. I am the Artistic Director for this program, which keeps me constantly thinking of new initiatives to be effective in providing the children with resources and opportunities that will give them a future and a hope.

Tell us about your nonprofit, Don’t Miss a Beat: (By the way, I love that you partnered with your family and this organization is based in our hometown of Jacksonville.)

Music saved my life, without being exposed to it; I don’t know where I simply would be. I feel that the arts are a bridge to a child having a better life, and I feel if we can open the door with the arts and also affect the children’s self-worth, esteem, and provide guidance and mentorship we can one child at a time change the world. Simply put… Kids are getting into trouble because they don’t have anything else to do. No one seems to be showing statistical data on the increase in crime paralleling the decrease in after school programs and arts funding.

The reason I started a non-profit with my family is a few reasons. My family is full of educators, financiers, social workers, and between 10 or 12 of us we can build an empire! So that’s what we’re doing!

I have been a New York Resident for almost 10 years, and during this time I have realized that complete abundance of artistic resources specifically for children from affluent communities here. There is no lack as it pertains to provide exposure for those children.  Even if they don’t possess the talent they at least have the opportunity to decide whether they want to indulge in something artistic.  With our children especially from under-privileged homes of low socioeconomic status in the south, they have no choice in what they get to be exposed to. That in my opinion is simply Unacceptable.

Don't Miss a Beat, Inc

What services do you provide? We provide after school tutoring for students.  We provide 4 to 6 week music and arts summer camp where they culminate the camp with an original musical. We also provide career development seminars for the adults where they can come and get computer training (specifically for the internet) so they can apply for jobs, food stamps, and other needs. We have a computer lab with 12 computers, and 3 printers that assist the adults as well as the children with their homework. (The computers are also available for anyone in the community that needs them. We have senior program in the works in which will combine the wisdom of the elderly and the energy of our youth allowing them a forum and platform to benefit from each other.  We are also building a library where the children and adults alike can come and check out books, cd’s and dvd’s and have information available to them to assist in enriching their lives.

How can one help?

Our website is www.dontmissabeatinc.org, and there are ways on the site to donate consistently to our department.

Why was it so important to give back to the people of your local community?

It was very important to me to give back because I don’t believe in making it to the top alone. I believe that if more successful people continued to look back and help those that come from where they come from. It’s the circle of life and something that our community has yet to really capitalize upon and radiate.

What is your favorite quote/motto?

“Nothing is impossible, the word itself says “I’m Possible”! – Audrey Hepburn

Last book read:

Book, “How Successful People Think” by John Maxwell

Favorite Musician:

My Fav Musician (s) Wynton Marsalis and Quincy Jones

If you could invite one sister (dead or alive) to dinner who would it be?

My Grandmother Ophelia Herring: I would love to talk to her and see what advice she would have for me right now at this point in my life because I believe that so much of what I am experiencing is apart of her prayers. So I would to just talk with her and understand her joy, and understand what she thinks I should keep as my focus in life.

Final thoughts:

II am completely honored to be chosen to be interviewed, and that whatever statement or contribution I am making in this world is being noted and observed. So it just makes you smile and keep working so that more are positively affected by your efforts. –U.O.

Check out the Brotha in action!

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About Tia Jones, MBA

Tiá Jones, MBA is the owner of SistersSpace.com the fastest growing online community for women of color. Tiá is also the blogger and creator of The Hostess Chick, and CEO of New Legacy Services, LLC, a small business coaching company.

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