T S MONK (Thelonious Monk III.) sat down with Black Enterprise Executive Editor-At-Large Alfred Edmond Jr. for an hour-long discussion on music, activism, and a whole lot more.
T.S., the son of the great jazz pianist and composer Thelonious Monk, spent five years touring with his father’s band before branching out to R&B. He went on to tour with Natural Essence but soon after formed his own band. Monk’s group had two recordings he arranged, sang, and played drums on.
Monk’s band also toured with some of the best bands in the 1980s including Kool and the Gang, Gap Band, and Sister Sledge.
In the interview, Monk talks about a variety of topics including jazz, 80s music, racism, and activism. In the interview, the award-winning musician praises the youth movement of today including the protests and the Black Lives Matter movement.
Monk also shared his views on today’s America, how we got here, and how today’s youth picked up where parents from his generation left off.
“I’m glad to be able to say this younger generation of African Americans and Latinos and Whites and Asian Americans have all decided that they’re going to step up to the plate and bring these issues to the fore and see if we can get them resolved,” Monk told BLACK ENTERPRISE.
Monk also discussed music and his career after his dad retired in 1975. Monk said he considers himself part of Jazz’s Generation X. By 1980, Monk has composed several hit records.
“I formed a group with my sister and one of the records I made is House of Music and it plays all over the country to this day, 40 years later, so in 1980 I won New Artist of the Year.”
Monk, who serves as the chairman of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, also discussed education and how the removal of extracurricular activities such as music has hurt our children.
“I think we over-emphasized reading, writing, and arithmetic because we left out life,” Monk said. “And some of those things don’t do anything for you in real life, that’s why we have major CEOs that never went to college.”
Listen to the interview to hear more about how Monk dealt with unexpected tragedy at the height of his career, his father’s music, and how he’s keeping his legacy alive.