By Grace Teofilo – Reprinted with permission from the East High Cardinal News
It’s not every day that a high school student from Wauwatosa East gets the opportunity to walk the red carpet. Senior Lenard Simpson will not only do that but he will be one of 30 talented high school jazz musicians from across the country who will receive a once in a lifetime opportunity come together to create the Grammy Camp–Jazz Session, a jazz band that gets to perform at Grammy events.
“It’s a good feeling,” Simpson said, on making the band. “It’s kind of that feeling where you can’t describe it, because it’s so big. You can’t even fathom it. [I] get the opportunity to play with the best kids in the country.”
Simpson will fly out to Los Angeles for a week to fulfill any aspiring musician’s dream. The jazz band will perform in front of many impressive music colleges.
Simpson, among other teenagers in the band, will walk the red carpet Feb. 7 and watch the Grammys. One of the best parts of their trip is to play at the many Grammy post-parties, including the fabulous Grammy celebration after-party.
Simpson said that this chance to perform in the jazz ensemble will definitely help him achieve his goal of going to his dream college.
“[Being in the Grammy band] gets your name out there. To say that you’re playing with the Grammy band; it’s a very prestigious band. My plan is to go to Northern Illinois [University] and do Jazz Studies… with Professor Ron Carter. [I want to] study... Jazz Performance and eventually move out to New York and hopefully play with some famous groups there.”
Jennifer Lato, director of Wauwatosa East High School’s band program is proud of Lenard.
“It is a huge honor for Lenard to be in the Grammy band and we are so glad he has the opportunity to participate in that ensemble,” Lato said. “Lenard is definitely a leader in the band program, not only in the jazz band but in the wind ensemble. He is definitely a role model for other band students.”
Any students who walk in the music hallway, whether before, after or during school, often hear the beautiful notes coming out of Simpson’s saxophone while he practices. Simpson deserves to be where he is today, and everybody could come to an agreement that Simpson is one of the best saxophone players to walk the halls of Tosa East; he should be congratulated for his efforts.
Writer Grace Teofilo, a sophomore, and photographer Claire Ducanto, a junior, are on the staff of the Wauwatosa East High Cardinal News.