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Artist Q&A: Ramsey Lewis

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With more than 80 albums, seven gold records and three Grammy® awards, Ramsey Lewis has been entertaining audiences for more than 50 years.The jazz icon is set to make his Fox Cities P.A.C. debut Oct. 23 with his Electric Band and featuring special guest Philip Bailey of Earth, Wind & Fire. Just as he is known for his unforgettable sound, Lewis is also known for an outgoing personality, so we asked him a few questions about his craft in this Artist Q&A.

Tell us about yourself and your background.

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Ramsey Lewis makes his Fox Cities debut Oct. 23

“I come from a musical family. Of the three children in my family, only my younger sister Gloria and I studied piano formally, but everyone liked to sing or play. I started playing for our church choir when I was 9 years old and really fell in love with the piano when I was 12. When I began, I had no aspirations to become a professional musician, I just loved the sound and feel of the piano. I wanted to get to know everything about the instrument and spend as much time with it as possible. When I was 15, I got my first job in jazz and studied with a local Chicago bandleader turned mentor, Wallace Burton. The more I learned, the more I loved the music and saw that Jazz opened into a lesson in life itself. There is always something more to learn about both, and the fact is, I’m still learning!”

If you could pick any other genre of music to be an expert in, what would it be and why?

There’s no genre of music outside of jazz that I’d love to be experienced in, although I do love European classical music and practice and study it at home. But knowing that you can’t serve more than one master, I wouldn’t think to attempt both genres at the same time.

Who is someone you would love to perform with?

Before Nancy Wilson retired, I really enjoyed performing with her and I’ve had the opportunity to perform with some wonderful singers in my day. Most recently I’ve had the pleasure to perform with Cecile McLorin Salvant, she’s terrific! Currently however, I look forward to performing with Philip Bailey. He’s very creative and a joy to perform with.

What can audiences expect when you come to the Fox Cities P.A.C. Oct. 23?

I always like my audiences to get to know the other gentlemen in my band so they will be featured throughout the night while we perform a mix of new originals and old greatest hits.

Thanks, Ramsey! We look forward to seeing you and your Electronic Band at the Fox Cities P.A.C. Oct. 23!

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