Musician Charms China

Jaren Walker discovered music and the alto and tenor saxophone in elementary school. Now, music has taken him from his hometown, Jacksonville, to Florida A&M and to Macau, where he performed with the band, Funky Deep.

In elementary school, Band Director Darryl Wilson, a former graduate from Florida A&M and member of the “Marching 100”, showed Walker the real beauty in music.

“His teaching taught me what good music really was and which enables my passion for music,” said Walker.

Walker attended Performing Arts High School located in Jacksonville, where Lindsey Sargeant, the head of FAMU jazz program, met him and offered him a scholarship.

The nine-member Funky Deep band includes FAMU alumnus and bass player Jeremiah Hunt. Founder, James Delisco, is an entertainer. While performing in Las Vegas, Delisco was contacted by the owner of the Venetian Hotel in Macau.

“James asked me if I knew any bass and saxophone player who would like to tour Singapore and China, and I immediately thought of Jaren,” said Hunt.

Since then, Walker has been part of the band for two years, playing the alto and tenor electronic saxophone, and a little bit of percussion and piano.

Walker said the experience opened his eyes about people in general. “We are alike in many ways and noticing the small differences was very enlightening to see,” Walker said. The band entertained the crowds with pop tunes and club songs.

“The audience was really welcoming and really happy to have us there,” Walker said.

He treats music as if it were a sport. He grew up in a home of athletes. He said he takes it very seriously as any football player who wants to play in college and the NFL.

“I have a similar path and passion by working hard every day and seeing where it would take me,” he said.

Walker wants people to see him as a serious musician. His experience in China had a great effect on his life. It allowed him to explore the range of his musical talents while performing on the stage in front of a live audience.

“It allows me to explore all sorts of musical possibilities for myself,” Walker said. “When I was over there, I just wasn’t playing saxophone or playing the keys on the piano; I also did a little rapping and background singing.”

Shanita Breggs, a second-year music student, said she enjoyed the YouTube videos of Funky Deep and Walker.

“His style of playing puts me in an unexplainable mood, and his technique is genius,” said Breggs. Now back on campus, he wants students and faculty to know that he is trying his best to make FAMU proud.

“You should erase the limitations on your own life, career paths, dreams, and goals,” Walker said. “Furthermore, represent yourself.”