Kendall Williamson, keyboardist
I am a 21-year-old senior at Columbia College Chicago. My major is Audio Art and Acoustics. I’ve been playing the piano for about five years. I’m the keyboardist at my church Kingdom Culture on the South Side of Chicago. I’ve been there for about a year now. I also play in a live hip hop band for a local artist named Legit. I also do a lot of keyboard production and playing for this group called No Nights Off.
What is your definition of a musician.
A musician is someone who needs music to be part of their life. Musicianship is more than just a love for music; it’s a lifestyle. Having music as an essential part of your life is key to being a musician.
What advice can you give to upcoming musicians trying to become successful at their craft.
You definitely have to practice. No matter what type of person you are or how experienced you are, there’s always room for improvement. You can always do that
How has Columbia College helped you as a musician.
Columbia has provided tons of opportunities such as meeting new people and providing chances for different venues. Literally the people I’ve met have gotten me to different places. When people see you and say, “Oh, you’re a Columbia student,” they look at you with a different eye because they know the quality of education as well as the quality of people that Columbia has. That’s definitely something I really appreciate.
Where do you see yourself as a musician in the next five years.
I love playing in live shows, so if I can do that with an artist or group of artists, that would definitely be a blessing. I would definitely still be playing at a church because that’s where I got my beginnings from. I don’t want to leave that part that’s inside of me.
Describe a time where you felt like giving up on music and how did you overcome that obstacle.
A couple of years ago, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority hosted a gospel fest at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) and I was asked to be the house keyboardist. As other gospel groups came in, I would play filler music throughout the show. Then something had happened- my mind just blanked out and I completely forgot the song. Everybody was looking like, “What’s wrong with that keyboardist? He sucks.” And I could feel everybody just staring at me so I tried not to look in the audience.
It was so horrible. That was my worst performance ever. After the situation, I talked to my good friend who is a musician as well and told him about the incident. He told me, “Bro, you always have to have a worst show.” That definitely inspired me. So, the next time I see those people they’re probably going to say, “Oh that’s the dude that sucks,” but then I would say “Well now, I can do this, that and the third.” It definitely was a learning experience and motivation to get me to practice a lot more.
Describe the Chicago music scene.
The Chicago music scene, I feel, is very underrated. There’s so many talented people-bass players, keyboardists, guitarists, singers, rappers, you name it. Chicago has so much talent, but it doesn’t get put on the map like a New York or a Los Angeles.
How hard it is to become a successful musician in the city.
I don’t see it as an easy road, but if you have that determination such as practicing one or two hours a day then there will be opportunities out there for you. You can’t be the passive musician who just does stuff in your room. You have to go out and meet people who can actually see your talent at live shows, bars and other venues. It’s somewhat challenging, but it’s definitely not impossible.
Want to know more?
Follow Kendall on Twitter at: StrokeYoKeyz