“Music happens to be an art form that transcends language”
Music and art, have gone hand in hand since man clapped two sticks together and painted on cave walls. The HS of Art and Design has “churned” out an artistic wide range of talented artists from advertisers to typographers. Art & Design though well known for producing budding visual artists, the school has inspired a good number of musical talent in various musical styles and genre. Jazz, rock, top 40, dance and rap, A&D has its share of notables. From smooth crooner Anthony Bennettedo, but you all know him as Tony Bennett, jazz diva Lynette Washington, fusion jazz drummer Lenny White, Christian “Big New York” de Mesones, neo-soul singer /song writer Nicole Willis of Repercussions, Christopher Martin aka “Kid” from hip hop duo Kid & Play and rap lyrical artist Pharoake Monch. Art and Design high school can add music to its list of “art” style.
The A&DAA would like to take a moment and “put on blast” those former students who may have missed a class to practice harmonies in the staircases, lyrical battles in the hallways. Hanging out a little extra nailing that guitar riff or getting in one more practice after class for the annual talent show.
Let’s look back and check out our musical “peeps.” As Meshell N degeocello would say, “yes I’m digging you… digging you like an old soul record.
Tony Bennett (singer)
Anthony Dominick Benedetto was born on August 3, 1926, in Astoria, Queens, New York City. Bennett attend the School of Industrial art, today is the HS of Art & Design. Bennett began singing at an early age. He is a World War II vet and after the war he developed his singing technique, signed with Columbia Records, and had his first number-one popular song with “Because of You” in 1951. In 1962, Bennett recorded his signature song, “I Left My Heart in San Francisco”.
He remains a popular and critically praised recording artist and concert performer in the 2010s. Bennett has won 17 Grammy Awards (including a Lifetime Achievement Award, presented in 2001) and two Emmy Awards, and has been named an NEA Jazz Master and a Kennedy Center Honoree. He has sold over 50 million records worldwide. In addition to all these accomplishments, Bennett is the founder of the Frank Sinatra High School, a New York city vocational high school with focus on the arts.
Mike Collazo (timbales) SIA class of 1953
Orlando Marin (timbales) SIA class of 1953. Considered one of the last Mambo King, Marin formed his first band, Eddie Palmieri and his Orchestra, in 1951-52. A 60+ career and counting Marin still performs today.
Joe Quijano (band leader, singer, timbales) SIA class of 1953
Dick Roman (Ricardo Sebastian De Giacomo, singer) SIA class of 1953
Bobby Weinstein, (song writer) SIA class of 1953
Eric Carr (Paul Charles Caravello, drummer), rock band Kiss
Christian de Mesones (bass, Groove Skool Band)
Christian “Big New York” de Mesones has been playing bass guitar for over 30 years. His first major professional achievement as a musician was playing the military club circuit in a hard rock cover band on the island of Oahu in 1981. During the mid-eighties de Mesones’ heavy metal band Twice Shy was a staple of the local New York Metal scene, and shared the stage at the legendary L’Amour Rock Club with acts such as Manowar, Twisted Sister, Overkill, White Lion and Trixter. A resident of Lake Ridge, Virginia since 2003, de Mesones currently teaches bass guitar at A2G Music. Read more about de Mesones and listen to his music on de Mesones’ web site.
Frankie Knuckles (Francis Warren Nicholls, Jr, Dj/producer)
Bronx native, Frankie Knuckles moved from New York City to Chicago in the early 1980s where he played an important role in developing and popularizing a form of dance music into what’s known today as “house music.” Knuckles passed away in April 2014 and he will fondly be remembered as “The Godfather of House Music.” See A&DAA tribute to Frankie Knuckles. To read more about life and career of Frankie Knuckles, the New York Times and RollingStone Magazine wrote a very nice wrap up.
Perez Jazz (Jazz vocalist)
Born in Harlem, New York, to a homemaker mother of Cuban Irish decent, and a Puerto Rican father, a machinist who played congas and guitar in the Navy Big Band, she was drawn to music and art from an early age. By age four, Perez would hear a song once and recite the lyrics and hum the melody. However, as a creative person it was photography that eventually became her self-expression that eventually led her back to music. So transformed is she that her moniker has become, simply, PEREZ. Read more about Perez and listen to her latest tracks on her web site.
Lynette Washington (singer)
Jazz vocalist Lynette Washington is a native New Yorker, born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. Her extensive music career in jazz, R&B, and gospel, has taken her across the globe traveling as far as Australia. She has the gift and ability to sing in several languages including Russian, Hebrew, Yiddish, French, Italian, and Portuguese. Ms. Washington is a sought after artist for a variety of multicultural events. Lynette was the 2005 Grand Prize Winner of the Jazzmobile / Anheuser Busch Jazz Vocal Competition.
Lenny White (drummer)
Drummer and producer Lenny White has been continually pushing the musical envelope for 38 years. At 18 years old, White was asked by Jackie McLean to be a part of his band. In 1969, still a teen White performed with Miles Davis on the landmark recording “Bitches Brew.” White has been described as “one of the founding fathers of jazz fusion.”
Christopher Martin (rapper, group Kid & Play)
Mobb Deep (hip-hop duo)
Ivan de Prume (former drummer in the groove metal band White Zombie)
Roger Sanchez (Grammy Award winning DJ, producer, recording artist)
Nicole Willis (singer/song writer Repercussions, Soul Investigators) Willis started playing music when she was a teenager. At first she wanted to become a ballet dancer, then learn to play bass, then sing. She said, “I was very shy so it was a slow start. I do music because that seems to be what I do most readily, easily. I’m proud to be in the alumni along with the likes of Frankie Knuckles, Tony Bennett, Calvin Klein, Marc Jacobs, the list goes on.” Willis has perform in many places across the EU (European Union) including: Spain, France Italy, Portugal, Germany, Switzerland, Slovenia, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, England, Scotland, Wales, Southern Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and Finland where she resides today in Helsinki. Read more about Nicole Willis and listen to her music on the web site.
Fabolous (John David Jackson, rap artist)
These following alumni have made the business of music their career path:
Ron Coro (art direction) The Cars, Candy O album cover
Milhan Gorkey Fishman (former VP & Press Relations for Charisma/Virgin Records ) See Mihan’s bio.
Ida S. Langsam (Public Relations, Aucoin Management)
Izzy Sanabria (emcee, comedian and founder of Salsa Magazine)
The A&DAA is proud of the musical contributions that our fellow alumni have brought to the world and us. The universe sounds a little sweeter and our souls lifted from the gift of sound and melody. Fly on little wing. ♦