If you missed our last chat with the remarkable renaissance man Gerald Cannon, be sure to read it here. And today, the conversation continues as we learn more about his early stages as a musician!
JK: I saw online that your first college major was physical education, which makes me wonder, when you were a child, what did you dream of becoming when you grew up?
GC: Well, I played basketball and football in high school and junior high school and I was pretty good at it, I guess, so I had a partial scholarship to the University of Wisconsin LA Crosse. I played basketball and my mother played basketball and my father played basketball. We all play basketball. One of my cousins retired from the Cleveland Cavaliers—who Kathy knows very well—James Jones. He used to babysit me and my brother, so we were a very athletic family.
JK: Yeah, sounds like it. So, did you want to become an athlete originally?
GC: Originally I was going to be a gym teacher—physical education. And during my time at the University of Wisconsin La Crosse, I started taking upright bass as an elective and I just fell in love with it. I was therr for 1 year then I transferred to the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music.
JK: So, would you say then that your childhood dream came true?
GC: Yes, definitely. You know, from 9 to 18, I was only allowed to play in church with my father and I could practice with all the local bands but my dad wouldn’t let me join any of them until I was 18. So, I did my first gig when I was 18. We were one of the local bands in Racine, WI.
JK: Was that with a jazz band?
GC: No, that was a R&B funk band.
JK: And then what brought you to jazz?
GC: I’ve been listening to it my whole life. My parents listened to gospel and jazz. My bother was really the one who—when we were of age to start buying our own records—he was totally into jazz and always buying jazz records. My mother gave me my first jazz record when I was 12 or 13 and it was a John Coltrane record called Africa/Brass and that just blew me away.
If you’re still eager for more Gerald Cannon, you can listen to him play in the album My Ship, which is available in our store and on all major music platforms today!