He’s talented, consistent and a masterful musician who is determined to become the best drummer in the nation.
Jonathan Davis, 24, a senior jazz studies student from Miami, won the district finals of the Guitar Center drum off. He was awarded more than $3,000 in prizes and a trip to the regional finals, to be hosted in Nashville, Tennessee in December.
If victorious, Jonathan will receive more than $10,000 in cash and prizes and advance to the national competition, where the grand prize is more than $37,000 in cash and prizes and the title of the No. 1 undiscovered drummer in the United States.Davis was brought up in a house of musicians where his father and brother played in a band together. His sister is a pianist. Davis recalls spending many days on a tour bus with his father and brother, watching them perform across the country in front of live audiences.
Davis perfected his art by playing for his church and school and spent hours at home practicing, aspiring to be the best. He said his relationship with God coincides with him playing the drums. “God is the maker of my gift, so if I study God I can get hands-on training for how to apply my gift into other bands,” Davis said.
Davis currently plays for Abundant Life and Restoration Ministries International and Florida A&M University’s jazz band. Lindsey Sarjeant, director of jazz studies at FAMU, said he believes that the skies are the limit for Davis. “In terms of being a musician, he is a masterful musician and there is not a thing that he wants that he can’t accomplish,” Sarjeant said. “He thinks melodically, which puts him a cut above other musicians. He approaches the drums as a melodic instrument as opposed to a percussion instrument.”
Not only does Davis’ director believe he can accomplish anything he wants, his fellow band members also said they believe he is one of the best drummers the nation has to offer. “Talking about him to other people I always tell them that he is probably the most talented drummer I’ve ever seen,” said Michael Williams, a senior jazz studies and commercial music student from Orlando. “Everybody has their own strengths, but as far as ability, he has the ability to do anything he wants on the drums, and you can’t say that for a lot of people,” said Williams, a trumpet player in the jazz band.
With his resourcefulness and technique, Davis has the capability to play various genres of music such as rock, gospel and classical. In addition to playing the drums, Davis can play the bass and is learning how to compose music.
When Davis isn’t mastering his craft, he is teaching others how to play the drums. He began giving lessons in high school and is now teaching others how to play on a regular basis. He teaches students who are at a beginners’ level and some on the professional level.
“He is very skillful and very knowledgeable and I enjoy him being my teacher,” said McKenzie Nattiel, 20, a criminal justice student from Gainesville. Nattiel went on to explain that Davis teaches him the importance of rudiments and understanding what you’re doing and not just playing.
Davis said playing the drums gives him a sensation of inner peace. “Playing the drums provides my highest level of peace,” Davis said. “It’s not the place where I go to release tension, but the answer, because it’s the gift that God gave me to settle things. It’s like my voice.”
Davis said he ultimately hopes the success of the drum off will lead him to greater names in the music industry that will open the doors for endorsements and hopefully push his business as a teacher.