Ulysses Owens Jr. visited Florida A&M University (FAMU) on Feb. 7 in Foster Tanner’s recital hall where he made his first stop on his university tour leading a personalized masterclass for music students.
According to Glide Magazine as being a “powerhouse of a showman,” some of Owens’ accolades include the 2013 ASCAP Plus Award, 2014 Global Music Award, and 2015 Jazz at Lincoln Center Swing! Award honoree, as well as being named a rising star by downbeats critics poll for five years.
The Jacksonville native is known for being an incomparable drummer, percussionist, educator, and entrepreneur. He found a love for the drums at the age of two and now serves as a faculty member of the Jazz Studies Program at his alma mater, the Julliard School.
Featured performances of Owens include Grammy award-winning album of Kurt Elling, Christian McBride Big Band, and his work with Joey Alexander in which he was recognized in a nomination by the Recording Academy. The instrumentalist also shared the stage with Wynton Marsalis, Monty Alexander, and Russell Malone.
In addition to those Owens, has released four albums and serves as the co-founder and artistic director of the charity, Don’t Miss A Beat, Inc., a youth-empowerment non-profit founded 2007 in Jacksonville.
Robert Eason, a second-year music Industry student, and local musician, Brandon Waddles, said he left informed and motivated after the session with Owens.
“Owens goals and visions changed as he progressed because he did not just want to be known as a drummer, but more,” Eason said. “This inspired me because it encouraged me to not only preserve at mastering my craft but also to be an impact in other areas of my musical career.”
Owens not only gave a remarkable drum performance during this masterclass, but took a majority of his time to speak on his life journey, the music industry, and answer questions from FAMU faculty, as well as students from both FAMU and Florida State University (FSU).
Second-year choral music education doctoral student at FSU and good friend of Owens,
also referenced the event as very inspiring. “The importance of remaining a diligent student to your craft, as well as the necessity of relationship building, and upkeep were to me perhaps the most poignant parts of his session.”
Not only does Owens take pride in performing, but mentoring which is the sole purpose of his #AroundtheWorldwithU University masterclass tour. The New York Times proclaimed that this jazz categorized instrumentalists “take[s] a back seat to no one,” and goes the limit in the jazz world and beyond.
“College gives you a network, and critical thinking skills if you can think it you can become it, you still have time,” Owens said during the masterclass at FAMU. “Time is the most precious commodity so take advantage.”
The masterclass university tour next stops includes University of Memphis from Feb. 23-25, Utah State on Feb. 27 and 28, and lastly Eastman School of Music on Mar. 30.