Etienne Charles Waiting out the virus at home in Michigan

In conversation with Etienne Charles

Waiting out the virus at home in Michigan

Etienne Charles
Photo Troy Anderson Roy

In the old days (last month) Etienne Charles was a man in motion, always the move. He was here. He was there.  He was up on the stage. He was in the air.

But that was then.  In the here and now, the 36-year old Trinidad-born trumpeter is just like so many of our readers.  He has been grounded and is waiting out the virus at his home in Michigan.

Charles holds a Master’s of Music degree from Juilliard and teaches at Michigan State University. He travels the world playing concerts, recording music and playing mas’ in Trinidad and Tobago  and Canada.

“The reason I’m a trumpet player began when I was on a family trip to Toronto as a three-year-old,” the trumpeter, told The Caribbean Camera

” I visited an uncle and was able to make a sound on his saxophone. At age 10, the same uncle gave me a trumpet and a different musical life opened up – one that incorporated new sounds with calypso as its root.”

Charles moved up to Florida when he was 19. There he studied music and began playing jazz.  He has now recorded six CDs, has performed at the White House and has won many accolades. Two years ago, he received the Caribbean Sunshine Award in New York City for excellence in the performing arts.

So what is the  jazz man doing at home ? Yesterday, Stephen Weir had a text message conversation with Charles – Weir in downtown Toronto and Charles  in the United States.

Stephen Weir: You are famous for your touring and your seemingly unending supply of get-up-and-go. What was 2020 shaping up to be before the shutdown?

Etienne Charles:  2020 was shaping up great! I had already finished two tours and about to start the third when lockdown happened. 

Stephen Weir: Have you been able to use this enforced downtime to be creative ? And if so, what might appear when you emerge from Perdu?

Etienne Charles : Definitely being creative. First thing that has emerged is my new web channel Creole Soul TV!

(Currently showing on Etienne Charles channel is an hour and a half concert he recorded with a big band live at the Jazz Standard Club in New York City.)

Stephen Weir:  What does the future hold for you ? Will you be coming back to Toronto?  Is your band still intact? 

Etienne Charles: Right now it is more music! This summer will be quiet. I am looking forward to (teaching the) Fall semester at Michigan State University and to playing some rescheduled concerts with my group. Hopefully, we’ll get back to Toronto at some point. 

Stephen Weir: What are your thoughts on the pandemic and how it is changing the world?  Do you see the music world – from concerts, to fetes and happenings – returning to the way it was? Or what do you think the new normal will be?

Etienne Charles: It’s interesting to watch. I’ve been taking it all in. Haven’t developed an opinion yet. Just experiencing it. For now, this is the new normal. 

Stephen Weir: How are your friends and family doing these days?

Etienne Charles: Friends and family are cool. Thanks for asking.