Artists Are Light Bearers
“As an artist I want to be a healing force"
“Throughout history art and music have brought people together,” reflects Jazz-legend Lenny White. The problem is though: “Artists have lost purpose. They need to have purpose again. I can’t think of a better purpose to do something artistically that brings people together.” Read more …
Born and raised in Queens, New York, Lenny White became interested in music at a young age. His father would take him to concerts in the local jazz scene. As a self-taught drummer he started off his career playing in legendary clubs such as the Aphrodisiac, Slugs and The Gold Lounge.
“Can music be the impetus to reunite the United States?” White’s answer is optimistic: “As an artist I want to be a healing force. Right now though, because of COVID, they are asking us not to congregate. It’s unnatural. You should congregate. Congregation is how society reflects all the things it needs to reflect.”
In 1969, White first appeared on Miles Davis’ historic recording Bitches’ Brew. As a member of Return To Forever during 1973-76, White gained a strong reputation as one of the top fusion drummers, but he was always versatile enough to play in many settings. White was soon working with some of the Who’s who of jazz including Freddie Hubbard, Joe Henderson, Woody Shaw, Gato Barbieri, Gil Evans, Stanley Clarke, Stan Getz and Chaka Khan among others. He has been nominated for five Grammy Awards and has won three of them. Beside that White has been teaching at Columbia University and Harvard Law School among others.
“I believe that artists are light bearers. We bring light into the darkness of life.” But the problem, according to White, is politics. And especially the polarizing part that politics has played within society today. “If you take the politics out of anything, anything could be the impetus to make things right.”
Lenny White was interviewed by Marc-Christoph Wagner at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in November 2020.
Camera: Rasmus Quistgaard
Edited by Rasmus Quistgaard
Produced by Marc-Christoph Wagner
Copyright: Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2020
Supported by Nordea Fonden
Becoming Paul McCarthy
On the influential and groundbreaking contemporary American artistSeries / 3 videos