In October 2021, Terence Blanchard became the first Black composer to have an opera staged at the Metropolitan Opera in New York in its 138-year history. There were 4,000 people in the strikingly diverse audience of the premiere of Fire Shut Up in My Bones.
“Seeing themselves on the stage, seeing people that they knew, seeing the culture on the stage at the Met had people in tears,” he said.
His musical journey began in New Orleans, playing piano at 5, switching to trumpet three years later. In 1982, he took over from Wynton Marsalis as trumpeter with Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers. By 1986, he was lead soloist and musical director, and in the 1990s, he became band leader.
Starting in 1991, he began composing music for Spike Lee’s films, eventually earning Oscar nominations for BlacKkKlansman and Da 5 Bloods. Today, Blanchard has more than 40 film scores to his credit. He also has written for theater, composing music for several plays, including the 2012 Broadway revival of A Streetcar Named Desire.
Alongside his composing, Blanchard continues to be in demand as a bandleader, soloist and collaborator. He’s been nominated for 14 Grammys, winning 5 times for his jazz music. In 2000, he was selected as artistic director of the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz at UCLA.
One thing is clear: No matter what Blanchard does, he does it exceptionally well.
Host: Vernon Neal
Producer: Dan Nass
Writers: Andrea Blain and Scott Blankenship
Executive Producer: Julie Amacher
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