Jazz Fest artist inspires

Movie star turned musician Terrence Howard recently visited Grand Cayman to perform in the 2008 Cayman Jazz Fest, held from 4-6 December.

Terrence Howard

The actor/musician shares a smile with a delighted student.

During his visit to the island the artist took some time out from his busy rehearsal schedule to motivate a few students from John Gray High School.

Howard’s audience consisted of 30 students – 10 drama, 10 music and 10 from the school’s reading programme.

The students were chosen to attend the informal session at the Dart Park Amphitheatre because of the high level of interest that they exhibited.

A self-taught musician who plays both the piano and the guitar, Howard’s first album, Shine Through It, was released in September 2008. The artist’s performance at Cayman Jazz Fest was well-received by the packed Pedro St. James crowd.

Howard spoke with the students about life, limitations and persistence.

‘No matter what you decide to do in life, in order to be successful you have to be willing to break your shell,’ he advised the group.

The engaging hour-long talk was followed by a question-and-answer period where the students got the opportunity to interact and take pictures with the actor/musician.

Howard broke onto the entertainment scene first as an actor, making notable television appearances on shows such as Living Single (1993), NYPD Blue (1993) and Soul Food (2000).

He also became well-known for his lead role in the UPN TV series Sparks. However, it was his riveting performance in the 1995 feature Mr. Holland’s Opus that put him on the big screen radar.

Howard continued to expand his movie career by taking roles in popular films such as The Best Man (1999), Crash (2005) and Hustle and Flow (2005).

In 2008, he made his Broadway debut, playing Brick in an all-African-American production of Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, directed by Debbie Allen and also starring James Earl Jones, Phylicia Rashad and Anika Noni Rose.

In addition to his acting accolades, Howard has performed on several music tracks for the Hustle and Flow movie soundtrack. The song It’s Hard out Here was written by Three 6 Mafia and produced by DJ Paul and won the Academy Award for Best Original Song at the 78th Annual Academy Awards.

‘Students from the drama and music departments, along with the students attending the weekly Friday lunchtime reading in the park session, were treated to a big surprise,’ said Mr. Christopher Bounds, head of Year 12 at JGHS.

‘We were so pleased to have the opportunity for an artist of Mr. Howard’s calibre to address some of our top students. Occasions like these give students incentive to want to strive further and drive them to accomplish their own personal goals.’

The session was coordinated by the Department of Tourism as a special Jazz Fest outreach programme to motivate and encourage Cayman’s youth.

‘The Cayman Jazz Fest brings so many influential artists to the island that we also wanted to use the opportunity to inspire the youth,’ explained Acting Director of Tourism, Shomari Scott.

‘As Mr. Howard is an acclaimed actor and musician, his appearance to this group was extremely fitting and the department is so pleased that we could coordinate this gathering.’

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