JAZZ.FM91 welcomes Jelani Watson to the team

Hi all, my name is Jelani. I am currently a Humber College music business post-graduate student interning at JAZZ.FM91.

After graduating from York University with a B.Eng. in civil engineering, you may wonder what I am doing as the assistant to the general manager at a jazz radio station.

I first learned about JAZZ.FM91 around 2015 when, after six years of playing the saxophone, I stumbled across a radio station that played all jazz. I was a newcomer to jazz at the time, as most of my musical tastes had laid in gospel, R&B, hip hop, pop and a bit of smooth jazz. I had primarily learned and played the saxophone in school bands beginning in Grade 5, and I had started soloing in church in the years that followed.

Around Grade 11, a new curiosity and desire to pursue composing and arranging drove me down a path of self-education and private lessons, which led me into the vast and ever-growing world of jazz. It was during this period that I discovered JAZZ.FM91. I was exposed to music and musicians who I have come to love and emulate, and who have been launching pads to explore the history and future of the music.

While I decided to pursue a degree in civil engineering after graduating from high school, the musical bug continued to grow. Currently, I am a freelance saxophonist, I play piano and keyboards for various churches in the Greater Toronto Area, and I teach piano and woodwinds at a music school in Scarborough.

My passion and desire for music, along with my love of mentorship and community, pushed me to attend Humber’s music business program to learn how musicians can make money doing what they love. Aside from pursuing a career in music for myself, the goal is to be an example and to help others carve out viable careers for themselves in this business.

I have been blessed to join the organization that was a large contributor to my introduction to jazz music. My hope is that I can act as a bridge and ambassador to my generation. There is so much great music in this lineage and so much more is being created right now. I truly believe that everybody has a hidden love for jazz, as the music and its history has seeped into various popular genres today.

I am extremely thankful to JAZZ.FM91’s general Manager Dana Wigle for bringing me in and giving me this role in the operation of the station and the many community programs that train and educate a new generation of musicians and music lovers.