Pianist Shares Newark Roots and Celebrates City's 350th Anniversary

Grammy Nominated pianist and composer, Adegoke Steve Colson, talks about his roots in Newark and how he will be honoring the city's 350th Anniversary with a tribute to Amiri Baraka and Dr. Clem Price.

12/8/16 #1928






"We welcome Ade Steve Colson, Grammy nominated pianist and composer. How you doing? Good. Good. Thank you. We're going to be talking a little bit about this CD. It is called "Hope For Love". Who is the beautiful young lady there? That's my wife Iqua. She's got talent too. She's a really good singer. Very good lyricist. Right? You've been performing together for a little while? 45 years now. Get out of here. Yeah, about 40 years. Is that right? Where are you from originally? Well, I was born in Newark and I grew up in East Orange. We were talking about the fact that you have taught at Bloomfield? I've been at Bloomfield College for quite a while now, yeah. When did you know you loved music? I think my earliest memory is hearing Louis Armstrong on my parents record player and, you know the voice just caught me. I must have been about 5 or 6 years old. Hmm. And then I was very fortunate that they decided to put a piano in the house and I started taking lessons. I was about 9 and I had a great piano teacher. Mr. Smith. Henry Smith. And that was it. That was it for me. You're going to be performing a little bit later by the way. The song you're going to be performing is? "Friendship". "Friendship". But you know, there's another piece that I want to talk about. There's a piece that you created called "Here is the place: Our city". It is in honor of the late Dr. Clement Price and Amiri Baraka. Yes. Two icons in this city. Clem Price, a mentor of mine and mentor to so many others, and Amiri Baraka. I was just telling you the last interview he did was on this stage, right here. Right there. Powerful interview that he did with us. Who are they and why do they matter so much? Oh, well those guys... Well, both mentors to me, yeah. Mmm. But I played with Amiri for Poet, [unintelligible], etcetera, etcetera Just a great great guy. But I played in his band. He had a band called "The Blue Ark" and so when he would deliver poetry, we'd play behind him so we had a music undercurrent to the poetry. The father of... Ras Baraka. Of Ras Baraka. Yes, the mayor. The mayor of the city. Go ahead. And so I started playing with Amiri about 1985. Hmm. And just right up until the day he passed we were playing, yeah. And Clem Price? Clem Price. Historian, professor at Rutgers, Newark. Go ahead. Great historian. He invited me several times to the Marion Thompson Wright series and also I collaborated with him on some other things separate from that, but we talked..."