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Take Five With Kosi

Akosua Gyebi By

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Meet Akosua Gyebi:

I am a songwriter born and raised in New York City.

Instrument(s):

Vocalist.

Teachers and/or influences?

Salim Washington, Katharine (Katchie) Cartwright, Miles Griffith, Abbey Lincoln, Jill Scott, Gregory Porter, and Nina Simone.

Your sound and approach to music:

I've been called powerful, and I usually bring just a little bit of drama to my interpretation. My sound is bigger than my body. I like to swing low and hard; I'm never more than a few steps away from the blues.

Your favorite recording in your discography and why?

The first time I can ever remember getting a standing ovation for performing an original tune, it was at a routine end-of-semester performance with the Brooklyn College Small Jazz Ensemble and we performed "Karen." The audience was riveted from the first line. It was the most surreal experience of my life thus far.

The first Jazz album I bought was:

Bill Evans, Sunday at the Village Vanguard (Original Jazz Classics, 1961).

What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically?

I am not creating anything, nor am I deconstructing anything. I am neither an iconoclast nor a follower. I am simply myself, and that is enough.

What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing?

We should not be afraid of change, or of outside influences, and above all we should not be afraid to be our authentic selves rather than simply imitating our mentors. We respect the past, but we should live in the present.

If I weren't a jazz musician, I would be a:

A folk musician, haha!

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