Today we’d like to introduce you to Dontae Winslow.
Dontae, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Today, I have the amazing jobs of orchestrating and arranging strings for icons like Eminem and Dr. Dre at Coachella while being on tour with Pop President Justin Timberlake, but 15 years ago in Baltimore, it was all a dream. I am a film composer, trumpeter, arranger, solo artist who fronts the band Winslowdynasty with my wife Mashica.
I graduated USC with a fellowship in jazz composition and film composing under Terence Blanchard and Herbie Hancock and moved to LA to pursue my career on an international level.
I started playing trumpet at age 10 and grew up in a poor neighborhood with a single mom. I have survived many of the trappings and misgivings inner city kids have to put up with and found my solace in music. I fell in love with European classical music while playing in the middle school band and knew that someday, I’d be a composer like John Williams, writing for huge orchestras and small ensemble soloists. I later began to study jazz music and always kept hip-hop close to my heart. Going to high school with 2PAC the rapper, left a lasting impression on me as an artist and how I would craft my emotions, life lessons, and creativity into sound and healing for others. After studying classical trumpet at the Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University, I married my soul mate, Mashica Winslow, taught music to kids in disenfranchised schools and decided to move our talents to Los Angeles. I came on faith with no connections and in 2 years was hired by Queen Latifah to go on tour as her trumpeter.
Last year, I arranged 45 minutes of music with an 80 piece orchestra for her Boston Pops debut with the world-renowned Orchestra. I feel as if all of my experiences have assisted me in mastering the craft of alchemy with sound. Composing for film is my dream and I plan to do it with the best of them like Hans Zimmer, Thomas Newman, and John Williams but with my own flair of hip-hop/jazz/electronica with a hint of Mahler.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
My road has been extremely rough and some of the struggles were ones of personal pursuance of excellence like practicing multiple crafts daily. I would practice scales, songs, jazz improvisation, study scores, attend concerts, art galleries, fashion shows, museums, eat fine food, listen to old records, anything to keep the inspiration flowing. Being an indy artist, husband/father, and having a Masters Degree in music still does not pay the bills, one has to have a product that the world needs and until you are called for a specific gift you offer there will be many part-time jobs and so there is a struggle to remain faithful, focused and dependent upon God for your breakthrough moment. The secret is to work hard, pray, and never give up.
Winslowdynasty – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I am most proud of offering humanity the absolute highest quality in moving, emotional, soul-stirring, and authentic technically proficient music. What sets me my wife, Mashica and my band, Winslowdynasty apart from others is our mastery of multi-genre music which plays well when we are given any film project to compose music for. Because of my diverse background and experience, I was able to warp from 13th-century European classical forms to early jazz of the 1900’s, to the bebop era of the 40’s back to the Romantic symphonic writing of the 1850’s up to 1990’s hip-hop and to today’s low end double-time TRAP. Music. That is exactly what I did in the HBO documentary “Baltimore Rising” I composed the score for directed by Sonja Sohn and Mark Levin. I’m a chameleon with a great ear for the heart of a story and what it’s trying to express emotionally. I make great samples (short hip-hop musical compositions) which have been used to make cult classics like Jay-Z’s “I Made it”, Kanye ‘s “ We Major”, and Kendrick Lamar’s “County Building Blues” and I play from the heart as on the trumpet solo from Dr. Dre’s “Talking to My Diary” from Straight Outta Compton and Kamasi Washington’s “Heaven and Earth” jazz LP, These melodies are authentic cries from my soul and I think this is why I am able to connect with great artists as we all help to heal the world with sound.
My solo albums are on iTunes and cdbaby, I have many projects but my favorites are Dontae Winslow &
Winslowdynasty “Enter the Dynasty” featuring Questlove and Chick Corea, and WinslowDynasty “The Life Album” featuring Dennis Chambers. My next album due Fall 2018 will be called, ‘ LIVING MIRACLE~WALKING ART’.
I specialize in being an uplifting independent jazz/rap artist while providing strings, horns, orchestral arrangements, film composition, and songwriting to a who’s who of A-list celebrity music clients in Hollywood.
What is “success” or “successful” for you?
Setting goals and completing them is my definition of career success in any occupation from business to agriculture, art, sanitation, food service to music. Life success is finding people to care about and who care about you and spending large amounts of quality time loving them, that is where happiness comes from. Being grateful for all that you have is key! Remember health is the #1 wealth, so take care of your body. Love, love and love some more. The only markers I look out for is being great and surrounding myself with amazing humans.
- Website: Www.dontaewinslow.com
- Instagram: @dontaewinslow
- Facebook: Facebook.com/dontaewinslow
- Twitter: @dontaewinslow
Photos by Dontae Winslow, Mashica Winslow, Karine Simon