"Shawn Myers... when I talk about students that have taken the challenge and stepped up from a place of uncertainty to a glorified place of ownership of their feeling, I mention Shawn Myers. Shawn was a former student of mine here at Oberlin conservatory. I always appreciated his work ethic and the sincerity in which he pursued his musical life, but it wasn’t until Shawn went to Ghana, West Africa to study drumming along with a colleague of mine from Berklee College of Music, Joe Galeota that the whole thing clicked for him. I always preach that if music is indeed your gift and indeed it is a gift, than the energy you give in pursuit of developing your talents begs that you take a close look at the spiritual real YOU! The former Shawn was way to shy to dance in front of anyone and his drumming was always solid but not like it was upon his return from Ghana. Shawn was up dancing at the drop of a hat and he went to work right away and formed an AFRO POP band with the jazz players at Oberlin!
That trips contextual and visceral experience ignited something deep in him and he carried that with him into his jazz drumming, arranging, composing and as a bandleader. It is my experience that most of us who feel the need to play and perform get a giant boost from visiting Africa. The experience can vary tremendously, but the end result is always tremendously insightful especially for the true seekers. The golden handcuffs of hard earned privileged of many middle class Americans has a way of insulating so many of us from the roots of our American Afrocentric music. The seed is there and in Shawn's case, all he needed was a strong hit in Ghanaian music and culture to launch him and assure him that his feelings and his musical insights have a place in this world.
In his current life as a graduate student at the University of New Orleans, gigging around New Orleans can be a real struggle especially for outsiders, so many great players, but Shawn has distinguished himself in the funkiest of towns in America by his drumming and his arranging/composing. To that end Shawn was awarded the Louis Armstrong Composition Scholarship by the University of New Orleans. The scholarship is sponsored by ASCAP. They will be flying Shawn to New York in December to receive the award.
I will forever think of Shawn as a musician who has the courage to take on any challenge that he feels he is directed to through the cosmic language of music and I will speak about Shawn as an inspiration to young players who find themselves at a similar crossroads."
Jamey Haddad, Oberlin Ohio, November 2014