Sweet saxophone music and words of wisdom graced the Palestine High School band hall Friday. Professional musician and PHS class of 1991 graduate, Art Sherrod, Jr., was in the house.
In Palestine to perform at a charity Gospel Jazz Banquet Saturday at the Civic Center, Sherrod spent Friday with high school and junior high school students.
Nearly 100 typically rambunctious teenagers sat in rapt attention as the 'hometown-boy-made-good' shared stories and philosophies of life and music.
“You're going to make mistakes,” he told the students, referring to life and music. “Make a mistake – we all make them – it's how you resolve the notes that matters.
“You, as musicians, play an important role in society. Always be your best – not someone else's best – your own, personal best.”
Sherrod, 45, revisited his years in the PHS band. He would practice for hours, just to keep music teacher Jimmy Shelton off his back.
“You should be taking your horns home every night,” Sherrod said, his Cannonball tenor saxophone hanging from his neck. “Practice something you enjoy, but practice. Music should be fun.”
Sherrod has played with industry giants such as Natalie Cole, and Shiela E. He is a voting member of the academy that awards the Grammys. Still, he has remained humble, almost self-effacing.
Asked by a student if he were famous, Sherrod chuckled, shook his head, and replied, “I'm very fortunate.”
Sherrod talked about life after high school. He attended the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, but switched paths before graduation, earning his bachelor's degree in science. He later earned a master's degree in business, while trying to break into the music scene.
Sherrod lives in Maryland with his wife and two children, but music takes him round the world.
When the school bell rang, many students stopped to thank Sherrod; some passed along greetings from their parents, who were classmates with Sherrod. He smiled with recognition at each name, passing along well-wishes of his own.
One student, a fellow saxophone player, presented Sherrod with a problem he was having with intonation. Although his time at school was up, and he had a business call to make, Sherrod asked the student to grab his sax so they could work out the problem together.
PHS band teacher Adrian Alonso, also a saxophone player, said having Sherrod speak to his students was invaluable. “It's a huge testament to what they can be accomplish, if they don't let anything hold them back,” he said.
Sherrod's father, former Palestine City Councilman and Anderson County Commissioner Art Sherrod Sr., sat in the audience, beaming with pride.
“He has done quite well,” he said. “If there's one thing a father can admire, though, it's that he never lost his humility.”
Art Sherrod, Jr. can be heard regularly on XM radio. His new CD 'Back 2 Business' can be found on iTunes, Amazon, and his website artsherrodjr.com
The Gospel Jazz Banquet starts at 6 p.m. For more information, call 903-373-1482.