Artist Spotlight: Terence Young

Terence Young is one of Columbia’s more popular smooth jazz guitarists. He has notable billboards around town and “The Terence Young Experience” shows are often sold out. He has shared the stage with renown recording artists such as The Temptations, Gladys Knight, Al Jarreau, Babyface and Angie Stone to name a few. A native of Elko, SC, Terence Young resides in Columbia, SC, where he manages and performs with The Finesse Band, a party band servicing the Southeast.

I have only worked with Terence once. It was a dual jazz show and was a wonderful blend of my straight-ahead and world jazz paired with his smooth jazz and R&B offerings. The audience seemed to love the diversity. Admittedly, most straight ahead jazz artists look down on smooth jazz. I’m not going to open that can of worms in this post, but I will say, I respected his show, his musicians, the production, his attitude and our working relationship. I think he has a lot to offer and Columbia is a more diverse and interesting place because of his efforts.

Let’s see what he has to say…

What is your earliest memory of developing a love for jazz music?
Listening to George Benson’s Breezin and a Song called Nile Rogers and Chic called Savoir Faire… The songs sound like interpretations of vocals. It blew me away.

Where did you study music?
I actually didn’t study music anywhere. I learned along the way and starting out with my uncle playing Gospel Music. I took what they showed me on the Guitar and developed my style listening to other genres of music.

Is there a story behind your latest composition or recording? Where can we find it?
My Latest Composition is called MY JEWEL. The story behind the song is recognizing the importance and value of women rather its a Mother or a Wife. My Guitar is leading with some background vocals to interpret the song. The Lyrics are Nobody Loves me Like You, Nobody Does what you Do, You’re the Greatest Treasure, I’m Glad to have you in my Life because you’re MY JEWEL.. You can find it on ITUNES and all digital outlets.

What is your favorite tune to play and why?
A song called Can You Stand the Rain.. It’s easy to love someone when things are good, but the challenge is loving them when things are bad. This is a special song to me because it’s been my testimony and millions of others when it comes to relationships.

How long have you been performing in Columbia?
I’ve been performing in Columbia as a solo artist for about 16 years but I’ve traveled the country as well. I’m not just a local artist you can see at any bar or restaurant. My shows are a production like attending a real concert.

Do you have a favorite venue in Columbia?
My favorite venue to perform in Columbia, S.C is the Harbison Theater in Irmo. I like the intimate feel it has along with the size. I like a listening audience and this place has that Vibe.

What other cities, states, and countries have you played in and how do those experiences compare with Columbia, SC?
I played in several states. As far as the comparison, my experience has been of course you’re gonna be acceptable more from other states than your hometown. On the other hand, I’ve sold out 98% of the shows I’ve done in Columbia in the last 10 years. That’s a good thing.

What is your most memorable experience as an artist?
My most Memorable Experience was Performing at The NAMM Show in Anaheim, California when I received compliments from George Benson along with other musician greats and an e-mail from the legendary Bootsy Collins. They both expressed they’ve never seen a guitarist as engaging, entertaining and musical at the same time with no vocals, all instrumental. That was a cool experience along with selling every cd I had with me after the show.

What music genres and/or artists influence your style and approach and why?
I have multiple musical genres that influenced me. As far as an artist, it would be PRINCE… My style of guitar playing is more melodic, musical and my shows are entertaining. I’ve done parties performing jazz and I was asked by several high schools to perform their proms as a jazz artist. My goal is to make my shows more than just a jazz concert. I like to give the people an experience.

Who is your favorite Jazz artist?
My favorite jazz artist would be George Benson.

Who would you give credit to as your mentor(s)?
My mentors were my uncles. They were my first influence and first teachers.

What is the best advice you ever received as a musician?
The best advice I’ve received as a musician is to feel what your playing. If you don’t feel it, don’t expect your audience to. Lastly, is to brand yourself by giving people a show every time they see you and that every concert you perform is an audition for the next one.

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?
The advice I would give to musicians is to practice and bring your best to the stage. To music venues, treat acts like artists and not background music. A lot of musicians have degrees in music, spend thousands of dollars in gear and countless hours of rehearsals. The last thing they need is to be ignored by T.V screens and conversations while they’re performing. The community needs to support the arts more.

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?
Music is a spirit. Your music can change people’s moods from bad to good. It can relieve stress and depression. This is why I make all of my jazz concerts fun, excited and engaging.

How often do you practice or give time to your craft?
I practice every day because this is what I do full time. My motto is, I’m never satisfied with my last performance and I work hard to make the next one better.

Tell me about your band and how everyone came together or about the musicians you usually play with.
I choose my band members based on dependability, personality and their work ethic. I don’t always go for the best musicians. I go for the ones who are willing to listen and learn. This makes everything easier for the artist to create an effective show.

Have you ever lost your instrument or gear during travel? Or do you have a funny story from the road or a gig?
I’ve never lost an instrument at a show but I do have a couple of funny stories. I had a lady faint while I was playing a guitar solo to her. She was out for about 5 minutes. On 2 other occasions, both shows in Atlanta, GA, I had ladies rip my shirt completely off while playing to them.

What are some ways that we can expose younger generations to Jazz? What are your ideas on how you can help grow the scene?
For years I’ve played elementary, middle and high schools and the kids love it. I think more live music in the schools would help the Jazz world tremendously. As far as growing the scene in Columbia, I’m planning on opening a venue that will cater 100% to live music and nothing else. Venues don’t last because they try to be jazz from Tuesday through Thursday and a Club from Thursday through Saturday. Once the stigma is there it won’t go away. I’m going to change the game in Columbia, S.C.

What does the Columbia, SC jazz scene do well and what does it need to do better?
Columbia jazz scene does good overall, it just needs to be more consistent. Jazz venues won’t last if you only go out for music on your birthday and one other Holiday. Jazz is a lifestyle that has to be supported consistently to stay alive.

Anything else you’d like to add?
The last thing I would like to say is that Columbia, S.C has some of the best singers and musicians in the world. They just need to come together and support one another. The community inspires jazz artists by supporting them on a CONSISTENT basis.