Cincinnati music teacher is one of 7 Next Jazz Legacy winners

CINCINNATI — A Cincinnati music teacher is one of seven people chosen to take part in a new apprenticeship for jazz artists.

Lexi Hamner will be paired with established artists for creative performances and mentorships as part of Next Jazz Legacy, a three-year national program launched to help make the music community more inclusive.

A traveling music teacher, Hamner has no trouble getting students at places like Rockdale Academy into the musical spirit. Its program dates back centuries to the origin of the American black sound.

“Being able to teach black American music is so important to me,” Hamner said. “I like that the students are always interested and welcome the idea.”

Hamner uses everything from the keyboard to the trombone to share the fundamentals of black American music.

“I play for class,” Hamner said. “Sometimes I play the trombone, other times I play the guitar for backing, and other times I sing.”

She credits the church for giving her the music bug — and her college professor for helping her fall in love with jazz.

“It’s really liberating music,” Hamner said. “Jazz is a form of music where I can really express myself musically.”

Hamner will be able to refine this expression during his apprenticeships with the famous jazz singer Bobby McFerrin and the musician Tia Fuller. McFerrin won two Grammy Awards in 1989 for his No. 1 hit “Don’t Worry, Be Happy,” while Fuller was a featured musician in Pixar’s “Soul.”

“It’s so crazy,” Hamner said. “For example, Bobby McFerrin is huge. Tia Fuller is huge – she even performed for Beyoncé.”

Other heavyweights helping the seven winners include Grammy-winning musician and singer Esperanza Spalding, saxophonist Wayne Shorter and guitarist Mary Halvorson.

“It helps to have people you can turn to for advice,” Halvorson said. “Especially being a minority or an underrepresented person on the pitch, I think it’s very important just to make sure you get the right kind of advice so you can make good decisions.”

In addition to apprenticeships, winners will participate in business mentorships and receive a scholarship to enroll in a Berklee Online course of their choice.
to continue their studies.

“It’s beautiful to see a woman of her stature at her young age being recognized for the greatness she has become,” said Lonia Lyle, general music teacher at Rockdale Academy.

Hamner will also receive a $10,000 grant to use as an investment in his career.

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