Previous Professional Development Award Winner - Grant Windsor

Thursday, 16 Jul 2015

Fourteen years ago Grant Windsor nervously shared his university-written recital piece with the Professional Development Award judges and went on to win in the very first Jazz category. Today, Grant continues to stun the world with his skills as a flutist, pianist, composer, arranger, conductor, producer and even an Awards judge.

In 2001, Grant took home the $10,000 PDA prize. The win facilitated his first overseas trip to New York and Los Angeles (in the days before taking a globetrotting gap year was the norm). In New York this scholarship extended to lessons with jazz greats Jim McNeely and Sam Yahel.

“This opportunity changed my life. Jim and Sam’s advice back then made me feel like I was on the right track with my writing. By chance, while I was in the US Russell Ferrante and the great Michel Colombier invited me across to LA to take lessons with them and it was amazing to talk composition, classical music and conducting with people of this calibre,” Grant said.

“In fact, I was one of the last people to spend time with Michel Colombier before he passed in late 2014. He was renown as a recluse but for some reason took to me, that meant a lot to me."

“I don’t come from a musical family but I knew from the age of 12 or 13 that I wanted to make music my life. This announcement wasn’t as big a surprise to my family as you’d think - I was always a bit ‘fruity.’ Although I had classical training, I was drawn to jazz,” he said.

His US trip created wanderlust. He relocated to work in London for a decade.

‘My early years in London were tough, but this fuelled my drive, I wouldn't take no for an answer. The most important thing is to put your craft first and the business later. Be original, have intent and you’ve a greater chance of breaking through. Know what you’re about. The dollars will follow,” he said.

This original approach is seen in his artistic works to date.

“I guess I like hybrids. I like to blend popular culture with swing and jazz music, pop and dub, even folk and electronic. There’s a satisfaction in exploring a wide range of genres and instruments and I always have gravitated towards that – I am naturally curious. There’s nothing better than seeing a string orchestra and a DJ improvising."

“Contrary to urban myth, jazz actually appeals to all ages, it casts a wide umbrella.  You see this in the demographic of the sell-out crowds at BBC Proms,” said Grant who was Managing Director there for years,” he said.

Grant has worked alongside many great artists over the years such as Jose James, Clare Teal, Gregory Porter, Jamie Cullum, Garou, Bilal, Sir Michael Parkinson, Ty, Plan B, Stephanie Mckay, Benji B, Emily King, Taylor Mcferrin, Matthew Herbert Big Band, Nailah Porter, Badmarsh and Shri, BBC Big Band, Sophie Solomon, Carole King, Pee Wee Ellis, Joe Bataan, Wretch 32, Russell Watson, Dionne Bromfield, Olly Murs, Pino Palladino, Femi Temowo, Marius De Vries, Lizz Wright and Jean Toussaint.

As well as an enviable performing, conducting and composing career, Grant’s move into producing is equally impressive. Recently he completed production on Clare Teal’s latest release Hey Ho which went to No.1 in the iTunes Jazz charts.  His recent collaborations as a writer/sideman include tracks for the new Jose James record No Beginning, No End and he has just begun producing a new collaboration with soloist trumpet player Alison Balsom.

“To anyone considering entering the PDAs, I say you have to be in it to win it.  At best, you’ll be surprised by a nomination or win, at worst, you’ll have your work heard by people of influence, you’re getting your ‘hat in the ring.’ I have seen industry people reach out to contestants much later, after the glitter has settled on the Awards ceremony, to suggest collaborating, and that’s a great opportunity courtesy of APRA AMCOS."

“I really believe in the work that APRA AMCOS does and its great to give back. I am proud to be an Ambassador for this important organisation."

Find out more about Grant Windsor

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