Snapshot: Interview with Carlos Simon

Age: 30

From: Atlanta, GA

Studying: DMA in Composition

Favorite Brew: Iced Coffee

Carrie Rexroat: How’d you get started in music?

Carlos Simon: My father is a pastor, and when he started a church in Atlanta he needed someone to play piano for service. So, I started playing piano, and learned how to read music and play it by ear.

CR: Did playing in church influence your decision to pursue music as a career?

CS: Absolutely. Playing in church helped me understand that music could reach people on a more spiritual & emotional level.

CR: Is that your focus as a composer? What are your inspirations and influences while writing music?

CS: As a black person in this country I choose to write pieces that reflect society and how I fit into the puzzle. We’re all human, we have the same connections to things, so I find that if a piece is reflective of who I am as a person and something I can connect with, someone else can too.

CR: What’s your greatest memory in connecting to yourself and others through music?

CS: Last year I was having a hard time juggling everything I had to do. I wasn’t writing music that was fruitful or engaging, so I had to step back, be still, and find happiness in what I was doing rather than focus on being busy. I decided to write a piece called “Be Still and Know”. When I was writing that piece I wasn’t thinking about what I had to do, any of my obligations; it was a practice of me just really being still in the moment, finding solace and happiness in what I was doing. That for me was a tipping point, because I realized that I always need to be writing music that connects with who I am.