Artist Spotlight: Shannon Pinkney

Shannon “True Blue” or “Deon Blue” Pinkney is a beautiful and fun pianist here in Columbia, SC. He always plays with a smile and exudes joy, calmness, and humility everywhere he goes. Listening to him is a treat as he aims for melodic expression and often interjects quirky musical quotes from a variety of other tunes. In the middle of a ballad he might throw in a quote from a children’s song or a famous Brazilian bossa nova. He’s a great entertainer and one of the easiest sidemen to work with. Shannon adds a lot of flavor to the gig.

Find him on Facebook: Shannon Pinkney and Deon Blue Music

Let’s see what he has to say…

What is your earliest memory of developing a love for jazz music?
Being in high school marching band, our marching shows were always jazz themed.

Where did you study music?
Newberry College

Is there a story behind your latest composition or recording? Where can we find it?
I’m releasing a single of “God Bless The Child” for my upcoming CD “Modern Standards”. With the unfortunate events going on with the tragedies of our youth, I wanted to arrange it in a minor key to give a more somber and reverent mood to the song. It will be available on CDBaby this summer.

What is your favorite tune to play and why?
I’m Old Fashioned, this song represents me and my music. Simple, timeless, and genuine

How long have you been performing in Columbia?
11 years

What other cities, states, and countries have you played in and how do those experiences compare with Columbia, SC?
Orangeburg, SC, Charleston, SC, Greenville, SC, Spartanburg, SC, Ashville, NC, Charlotte, NC, Durham, NC, Augusta, GA, Atlanta, GA, Elmhurst, IL, Florida, New York, Tennesee, Alabama, New Jersey, New Orleans, Alexandria, LA. The support for LIVE jazz is similar, a few nice places but support for it is hard to come by.

What is your most memorable experience as an artist?
Getting out of school to travel to Washington D.C. to perform for the Grits and Granite Ball for the Inauguration of President Barak Obama

What music genres and/or artists influence your style and approach and why?
Swing/Oscar Peterson, Phineas Newborn
Latin/Antonio Carlos Jobim, Chick Corea, Mambo Kings
Blues/Joey Defrancesco,
Fusion/George Duke, Herbie Hancock
My first instrument was drums, so I’m naturally drawn to genres with a lot going rhythmically.

Who is your favorite Jazz artist?
Quincy Jones

Who would you give credit to as your mentor(s)?
Terry Gross (High School percussion instrutctor)
Bill Long (College Band Director)
Skipp Pearson (Jazz Mentor and cousin)

What is the best advice you ever received as a musician?
Learn the tunes instead of relying on the Real Book

What is some advice or statements you’d like to offer to up-and-coming musicians, your peers, live music venues and/or the community in general?
Musicians: Play like your life depends on it. Because it should

Music is a way of communicating and connecting with people. What are your thoughts on this? What are some ideals and values you’d like to reflect in your music?
Simplicity-music does not have to be technically difficulty and elaborate to be good. Patience-I want my music to influence it’s listeners to slow down and embrace what’s around them, rather then looking for the next thrill. Diversity-Bringing people with different musical backgrounds together to real musical experiences that can be enjoyed by everyone.

How often do you practice or give time to your craft?
3 hours a day

Tell me about your band and how everyone came together or about the musicians you usually play with.
My group Bluely Noted is a quartet featuring vocalist Margaret Knight. Travis Shaw on Bass and Edwin Hamilton on drums. I first met Travis and Edwin 6 years ago at a gig I was subbing for in Aiken, and the chemistry was there from the downbeat of the first tune. I met Margaret 2 years later and was smitten by her voice and knew she was the missing piece to the group I had envisioned.

What are some ways that we can expose younger generations to Jazz?
What are your ideas on how you can help grow the scene? YouTube is a great tool for exposure as well as revenue. I believe South Carlina jazz series of different themes could be created for education as well as getting out music from local jazz musicians.

What does the Columbia, SC jazz scene do well and what does it need to do better?
Columbia’s jazz scene does a great job of offering ALL musicians an opportunity to work, and improve their craft. The scene could improve the types of jazz available to the public. While there are a few groups like Soda City Brass Band, Capitol City Big Band and Latin Caravan, that have a dedicated style of jazz. It seems to be an overabundance of Straight-Ahead overall. I personally would like to hear more jazz from different eras.