The 2011 Grammy Awards have scarcely ended and the music world mourns the loss of jazz pianist and legend, George Shearing. Recognized for orchestrated and inventive jazz, he created 300 compositions, but is most well-known for Lullaby of Birdland. Among his many awards and honors are honorary doctoral degrees (Westminster College, Hamilton College and DePauw University), two Grammys in 1982 and 1983, respectively, and knighthood bestowed in 2007 by Queen Elizabeth II.
When the letter requesting his appearance before the Queen was read to him, George simply said, “I don’t know why I’m getting this honor… I’ve just been doing what I love to do.” And, when asked by the press how he felt about receiving the highest honor the Queen can give, he replied, “My mind keeps flashing back on my beginnings as pianist playing in a pub for the equivalent of $5.00 a week. What a journey it has been from that pub to Buckingham Palace. Receiving such an honor as a knighthood might also show young people what can be achieved in life if one learns his craft and follows his dreams.”
While many of us, as musicians and students, may not achieve the status of knighthood, perform in the presence of three U.S. presidents, win Grammys, or actively perform until the age of 85, may we all learn our craft and follow our dreams.
Click here to see a list of music by and books about George Shearing.
*Quotes and biographical information taken from the George Shearing website. For further information, please visit his website at www.georgeshearing.net