World-renowned jazz pianist, composer, arranger and educator Marcus Roberts, visited FSDB on August 6, 2013. This coming fall, the CBS news show 60 Minutes will air a segment about his life, part of which was videotaped during his campus visit.
Marcus Roberts grew up in Jacksonville, Florida where his mother’s gospel singing and the music of the local church left a lasting impact on his musical style. After losing his sight at age five, he began teaching himself to play piano a few years later. He had his first formal lessons at age twelve. Once he graduated from FSDB in 1981, he went on to study classical piano at Florida State University with Leonidus Lipovetsky, a virtuso pianist from Uruguay. While at Florida State, Roberts won the first of many competitions and awards garnered over the years. At age 21, he began touring with Wynton Marsalis, who is an internationally acclaimed musician, composer, bandleader, educator and a leading advocate of American musical culture. Marsalis is also the world’s first jazz artist to perform and compose across the full jazz spectrum from its New Orleans roots to bebop to modern jazz. The two would play together for six years. Roberts’ deep respect for the contributions and achievements of the great masters of jazz and classical music has led to his highly innovative and original piano style and philosophy of jazz improvisation. He is also an extremely active composer and arranger, with numerous individual compositions and entire suites of music. The Marcus Roberts Trio regularly provides master classes, workshops, lecture-demonstrations and residency programs while on tour. When not on tour, Roberts lives in Tallahassee, where he serves as an Assistant Professor of Jazz Studies in the School of Music at Florida State University.
Marsalis is currently the Cultural correspondent for the CBS Morning Show. He wanted to do a segment on his old band mate, but 60 Minutes felt this would be better suited during a primetime broadcast. The producers of the show contacted the school administration in early June to see if it would be possible to videotape an interview and jam session between the two. On August 6, 2013, a production crew rolled into campus with their lights and video cameras. They spent the day shooting video of both in the Wilson Music Building. In the afternoon, Roberts and Marsalis performed a jam session with FSDB students, alumni, parents, teachers and staff in attendance. This was followed by a question and answer session. “How do you become a successful musician?” asked one of the students. Roberts replied,“The most important thing is the way you distinguish yourself by developing good character traits.” A couple of current students and a former alumnus even got the opportunity to play alongside Roberts, a once in a lifetime opportunity. At the end of the day, students involved with the FSDB Music program got to put on their own jam session for Roberts and Marsalis.
“It was inspirational to watch Marcus Roberts, a 1981 FSDB graduate who is a highly successful jazz pianist and university professor, and Wynton Marsalis, a world-acclaimed jazz musician, interact with students from the FSDB Blind Department,” said FSDB President Dr. Jeanne Glidden Prickett. “The genuine interest and caring of these two extraordinary professional musicians will be something the students will remember for a lifetime.”
Watch for the segment on Marcus Roberts to air on 60 Minutes later this year. Click here for more information about his background and accomplishments.
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View the CBS 60 Minutes segment that aired on Sunday, March 30, 2014
Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind (FSDB) is a fully accredited state public school and outreach center available tuition-free to eligible pre-K and K-12 deaf/hard of hearing and blind/visually impaired students. Comprehensive educational services at FSDB are individualized, specific to the unique communication and accessibility needs of each student for independence and lifelong success. FSDB gratefully accepts private donations to support vital programs that directly benefit students and are not paid by state general revenue funds. To visit the school or to learn more about eligibility for enrollment, contact 1-800-344-3732. For more information, visit www.fsdb.k12.fl.us.