Thursday, April 20, 2017

NEC jazz trumpet grad David Adewumi is named a 2017 Paul & Daisy Soros Fellow

Adewumi, one of 30 recipients to receive fellowship worth up to $90,000,
joins list of NEC students similarly honored

The Paul & Daisy Soros Foundation announced today the recipients of the 2017 Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans, a graduate school fellowship program for outstanding immigrants and children of immigrants in the United States. The recipients, chosen for their potential to make significant contributions to US society, culture, or their academic field, each receive a fellowship worth up to $90,000 and join a community of nearly 600 Fellows from past years.

Among the 2017 recipients is New England Conservatory (NEC) jazz trumpet graduate David Adewumi. The child of Nigerian immigrants, Adewumi will use his fellowship to continue his jazz trumpet studies at the Juilliard School of Music. Adewumi joins the list of NEC students honored with the prestigious fellowship, which also includes cellist Christine Lamprea (2012 Fellowship to pursue MM studies at NEC), guitarist Grisha Goryachev (2006 Fellowship to pursue doctoral studies at NEC), and composer/NEC graduate Lei Liang (2002 Fellowship to pursue doctoral studies at Harvard).

“I’m so proud of David,” said NEC Jazz Studies Chair Ken Schaphorst. “He's a wonderful student and I expect great things from him in the future.”

“New England Conservatory gave me the freedom to explore my creative potential and the resources to develop my artistic vision,” says Adewumi. “The teachers and mentors that I have had the opportunity to spend time with, care about the future of the music. Their wisdom has propelled me into the extraordinary opportunities that I have today. I am grateful for the years that I spent at NEC and will never forget the people that helped me on my path to becoming an advocate for the music "

This year’s applicant pool of 1,775 was the most competitive in the history of the fellowships. In addition to receiving up to $90,000 in funding for the graduate program of their choice, the Fellows join the prestigious community of recipients from past years, which includes individuals such as US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, Chief Scientist of Artificial Intelligence at GoogleCloud Fei-Fei Li, pharmaceutical CEO Vivek Ramaswamy, Lieutenant Governor of Washington Cyrus Habib, leading ACLU attorney Nusrat Choudhury, award-winning writer Kao Kalia Yang, and nearly 600 other New American leaders.

The 2017 Fellows, who are 30 or younger, come from a range of socioeconomic backgrounds, and are all naturalized citizens, green card holders, or the children of immigrants. Their backgrounds reflect the diversity of recent immigrants and refugees in the United States.

David Adewumi's immigration story begins with his grandparents, both educational reformists from Nigeria, who immigrated to the United States in the late 1970s to complete doctoral programs at Columbia University. After graduating, they returned to Nigeria, where they raised David's mother and her siblings with a focus on education and hard work, as well as with a deep admiration for the United States. Following in their footsteps, David's mother and father eventually immigrated to the US and settled in New Hampshire, where David was born.

When David was introduced to the trumpet, in his fourth-grade music class, he was immediately drawn to the instrument. But it wasn't until he heard the music of Roy Hargrove, Miles Davis, and Wynton Marsalis that he decided to dedicate his life to exploring the mysteries and intricacies of jazz. Proving to be the ultimate test of his discipline – he spent countless hours practicing – jazz became David's second language.

His hard work led to many appearances at music festivals and ultimately his acceptance to New England Conservatory. While working on his undergraduate degree there, David began crafting his artistic vision with guidance from the school's jazz faculty, including Laurie Frink, Ralph Alessi, Jason Moran, Frank Carlberg, John McNeil, and Ran Blake. In 2015 David was one of twenty-four musicians accepted to Betty Carter's Jazz Ahead program at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, as well as the Banff International Workshop in Jazz & Creative Music in Alberta, Canada.

In 2016 David was one of five musicians accepted to the Juilliard School's Jazz Department and is continuing to develop his voice in New York City's renowned jazz scene. He attributes his success to a loving family that taught him the value of education, dedication to his craft, and faith in Christ.

NEC's Jazz Studies Department was the first fully accredited jazz studies program at a music conservatory. The brainchild of Gunther Schuller, who moved quickly to incorporate jazz into the curriculum when he became president of the Conservatory in 1967, the Jazz Studies faculty has included six MacArthur "genius" grant recipients (three currently teaching) and four NEA Jazz Masters. The program has spawned numerous Grammy winning composers and performers and has an alumni list that reads like a who's who of jazz. As Mike West writes in JazzTimes: “NEC's jazz studies department is among the most acclaimed and successful in the world; so says the roster of visionary artists that have comprised both its faculty and alumni.” The program currently has 105 students; 55 undergraduate and 50 graduate students from 16 countries.

Paul and Daisy Soros, Hungarian immigrants and American philanthropists, established their Fellowship program for New Americans—immigrants and children of immigrants—in December of 1997 with a charitable trust of fifty million dollars, which was later increased to $75 million. They created the program as a way to give back to the country that had afforded their family such great opportunities. Mr. and Mrs. Soros decided on a fellowship program because it allowed them to assist young New Americans at critical points in their educations, which they felt was an unmet need. They also wished to call attention to the extensive and diverse contributions of New Americans to the quality of life in the United States. The rigorous selection process is focused on identifying the most promising New Americans who are poised to make significant contributions to the nation through their work. In addition, the selection team looks for a commitment to the United States’ fundamental principles and ideals. Mr. Soros passed away in 2013.