During his 40 years in the music industry, and 30 years as a professional musician, Child’s musical experience and accomplishments include writing, producing, and performing on multiple records, developing a music production and promotion company, working on a commercial for Nike, creating a recording label, starting his own band, ‘Foster Child and the Runaway Band,’ and exploring new technology to create multi-media based performances.
Child began his music career immersed in the vibrant and energetic urban setting of America’s first capital, Philadelphia Pennsylvania. Mr. Child was inspired to study music early as an elementary school student, learning to play the piano and coronet before finding kinship with the saxophone.
He was lucky enough to be starting his career at an auspicious time when Philadelphia was bristling with a new vivacity that electrified the music scene locally and nationally. It was in his neighborhood and at his grandmother’s house where his fateful interactions with music great Stevie Wonder changed the course of his life and cemented his decision to pursue music.
While his first love is Jazz, Mr. Child effortlessly transitions into playing, writing, and producing music for the R&B, Hip-Hop, Ska, Rock ‘n Roll, and Funk genres. He has had the fortune to work and share the stage with musicians and bands like Sun Ra Arkestra, the Stylistics, the Delphonics, Buddy Miles, and Earth Wind and Fire.
Always open to new experiences and propelled by his desire to see the World and work with the musical talents of other countries, Mr. Child traveled to Europe, Ghana, Liberia, Japan, Cambodia, India, Hong Kong, Turkey, Macau and Thailand. Internationally he has shared the stage with jazz icon Sadao Watanabe, Nigerian artist Fela Kuti, Bangkok’s Teddy Ska, and produced a record for the award-winning Ivory Coast reggae musician, Jim Kamson.
Child’s travels have been transformative, inspiring his music, changing him both spiritually and creatively. Through daily journaling, he reflects on the sights, smells, colors, and sounds that he experiences and absorbs from his new surroundings, translating them into novel and innovative compositions, culminating in the Sensorium Project. His sensitivity to the energy and spirit of environments abroad, opens him to a greater awareness of his surroundings at home, allowing him to focus more deeply on what it means to be an American musician. Clearly, Child’s international experiences as a global citizen have shaped his mind and spirit.
Name a discovery you made as a Black man:
I would say the most awesome discovery is the love and the reception I have received from people all around the world from different cultures… and how easy it is to connect with other musicians in other cultures even though we don’t speak the same language. Being an American jazz musician makes you a universal musician…We have no idea how many people of color are in the world, for one, and that is the beauty of it all.
For me, being a man of color and connecting and getting that love [is important] because you don’t know you have that kind of love out there until you step out there. All you know is the tax that you have to deal with being an American Black man everyday. And, some of those people know they are connected to us. I have people walking up to me all the time speaking to me in different languages because they don’t know where I am from. It has happened in Turkey, Thailand, Cambodia, India…We are truly part of that spiritual, cultural fabric that really dominates the world. The other thing is the love that you get from people that know your music. You have people in Japan that know more about jazz, John Coltrane and Miles Davis than Americans, even the American jazz musicians — they know more than some of us because they study our history and we don’t study our history.
How do you push through your worst times?
My perspective on music has always had a spiritual base. You just get up every day and do what you do: create. For all of us, whatever we do affects the universe. When you create, you’re giving to the universe, you’re putting something positive into the universe—and you’re doing your part…I have learned to go within. It is sort of like Zen—you don’t judge according to appearances. You have to be still. and perceive with absolute certainty in the spiritual realm to accomplish something on a higher plan
My advice is whatever you encounter, step over it and keep on moving. Eventually you’ll get away from it. You cannot stand still. Like, if you had an argument with your husband, in an hour you should have deleted it from your emotional hard drive. When you do that, you can move.
You can’t judge by appearances, and whatever you want, you’ve got to keep it in the center of your forehead. You don’t have to talk about it; you just have to realize it is in the incipient reality. The minute we desire something and say, “I want this,” we already have it, it’s just not in the physical reality we can see. Just stay connected and keep your idea, plans, dreams, goals and aspirations flowing—and everything will show up.