Prominent jazz musician, teacher, and business owner Antonio D. Underwood has been a valuable contributor to raising awareness of jazz music and the way it intertwines with different cultures.
His list of accomplishments as a musician is noteworthy. He was a Fulbright Scholar in Serbia and the first African-American to become a George Lucas scholar with the Scoring for Motion Pictures and Television program at the University of Southern California. As an alumnus of Yale, he was presented with the Yale School of Music’s Alumni Award for outstanding contribution to the Yale environment.
But none of that came easy. Antonio credits the role of diversity and the opportunities he got to learn and excel in life to succeed as a jazz musician cum educator.
Miracles can indeed happen when a mix of different cultures, backgrounds, perspectives, and points of view come together in harmony and create notes of peace and love. Throughout his 30 years of service to the field of music, perhaps the most noteworthy is his long list of education services, where he has been responsible for mentoring and tutoring classes, seminars, and workshops in music. He has vast experience teaching Pre-Kindergarten through 12th-grade classroom instruction at international schools. He has experience training other educators and providing information on teaching methodology, curriculum, and commonly faced issues.
The famous words of educationist Antonio Underwood at a college event show his support for progress and constant learning.”Young people, you have an opportunity– I don’t care where you go to school, to learn from people that know the world, know life, know how to send you in a direction that you say you want to go,” he said asserted. “It’s not their fault if you don’t get there because you have to take the responsibility.”
Antonio was born to an African-American family in Charlottesville, Virginia, and raised with a brother, sister, and cousin, in Englewood, New Jersey. His love for music developed early in life, mainly due to its use in the church. Hailing from a large family with meager ways of living, the close-knit family was highly involved in the nearby church, which Antonio remembers as ‘our world.’ He further recalls how with no internet facilities at that time, everything was so real and in front of their faces.
The famous musician disrupted the societal norms and paved his way to attaining a degree in Classical Music with a major in Tuba from Yale University. For someone with a background like his, it was a rare move. “Street kid goes to Yale”
According to Antonio, he was faced with a lot of criticism for his choice of instrument. He says, “Many just hear the trumpet and saxophone. What? Tuba? You have
to be crazy!” but that did not deter him. Antonio knew from the start that music was his ultimate passion and pursued it with full vigor and energy. He created his music label Tone East Music LLC in 1994, where he has been composing and producing professionally recorded music till today. 18 CDs complete, with 3 in production.
Antonio was chosen by the Fulbright Scholar Program of the USA in 2015 to research the influence of Jazz music on the culture of Serbia. His valuable experience in the music, theatre, and film industry and his passion for helping young minds develop their music taste through jazz led him to initiate The Serbia Children’s Jazz Festival & Workshops by community request.
Currently, he is raising funds for the workshop and wishes to help maintain curriculums. Alongside his educational aims, he is fervently writing music and developing Tone East Music LLC as the perfect platform for young artists, nurturing their abilities and skills in music and film scoring and life.