My name is Drew Alexander Forde. I am an African-American violist from Peachtree City, Georgia, and I will be a freshman at Mercer University in Macon, Georgia this fall. I am the son of a single mother who goes to work before sunrise every morning, attends class online every afternoon, and runs my brother and me to various rehearsals, lessons, and practices most evenings. This amazing woman not only keeps our family afloat and my musical dreams alive, but she also inspires me to share music with the world. My dreams of being a musician and advocate for the arts began with her.
Although I began playing viola at age twelve, I have loved music since my days in the crib. Back when I was a child, barely old enough to speak, my mother would put a boombox beside my crib every night and play various works by Johann Sebastian Bach. Of all the things I remember about my early childhood, this simple yet significant act set me down the path to being an advocate of music of all types. She taught me that music has many different shades and hues, but they all stem from one source, classical. The complex structure of baroque music is truly a pleasure to listen to. The many layers and cadences that are the constituents of this style allow the listener to hear something different every time. Mother always insisted that I listen to the harmony as well as the melody, for it is just as important.This assertion ultimately led me to choose to play the viola. It goes without saying that, aside from the harp and guitar, the violin is the most highly recognizable stringed instrument. My beginners’ orchestra class was almost completely composed of violinists! After weighing my options, I decided to choose the viola, for I hate jumping on the bandwagon. And all the while, my mother’s words rang in my head. It was my personal goal to produce the richest harmony anyone has ever heard.
Years later, my mother encouraged me to audition for a special program for African American and Latino American musicians. It is known as the Talent Development Program of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. In this program, I received master classes, lessons, summer camp scholarships, and countless playing opportunities, all of which contributed to the caliber at which I play today. In addition to receiving some of the best mentoring possible, I acquired a sense of obligation to pass on what I learned to younger kids. The only way I could pay back my teachers and mentors for everything they did for me was to pay it forward and make sure the craft of musicianship stays alive. This internal call to action is what drives me today. With all that in mind, I began teaching younger students in my area, giving master classes to elementary and middle schools in my area, and introducing inner-city kids to the joys of classical music. The experiences I had with these students helped me realize how important it is to pass knowledge to others.
In the fall, I will be attending Robert McDuffie’s Center for Strings at Mercer University in Macon, Georgia. I plan on acquiring extensive classical training so that I may be the best musician I can be. However, I plan to eventually branch off into Hip-Hop, R&B, and Jazz. For years, I have dreamt that these popular genres of music will one day be fused with elements of classical music. This is due to my recognition that much of society is quite ignorant of the joy and creativity that is exhibited in classical music. This grim fact truly saddens me. However, I think it is possible to rectify this by slowly incorporating classical elements within popular music. Who knows, it may become an entirely new genre altogether! It is my hope that one day that classical music will be imbedded in mainstream music like it once was. Fusing classical music with popular music can make my dream a reality.
As you can see, all of my thought and ambitions have come from one source, my mother. I owe everything I am today to the woman who gave me life. Without her guidance, support, and encouragement, I probably wouldn’t have ever picked up an instrument. Music, the precious gift she has given to me, is a lifelong gift; a gift that cannot be matched. I will never be able to fully express the depth of my gratitude for all she has done. All I can do now is push forward and do my best to make her proud.