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Camille Thurman – How A Geologist Becomes An Artist


What are some of the other situations where students have come back and say that you inspired them to do in music?

Several have reached out to me and kept me posted on their progress in playing. Some students were inspired to try out for their school bands the following semester, and they passed the auditions. Some have gone on and take the next step in learning by transcribing their favorite players, writing original music and trying out doubles (woodwinds).


You went to college and obtained a degree in Geological & Environmental Science.  But, yet you are a full-time musician.  What happened?  Did the music in your soul speak louder than the science?

I went to Binghamton University and received my degree in Geological and Environmental Sciences –that’s what I thought I would pursue when enrolling. I had a wonderful Jazz Ensemble teacher, Mike Carbone who encouraged me to pursue this as a career. While I attended Binghamton, he had me sub for his gigs, teach students and gave me plenty of opportunities to meet musicians in the field and play.  So this opportunity was great for me because it was my training for coming home. I knew that I loved playing and I was fortunate to have a very supportive  team of mentors encouraging me to pursue this career. Through the Harpur Jazz Program I was able to perform with Tia Fuller, Steve Davis, Sherrie Maricle, Cynthia Scott, Bruce Johnstone and many others. I was able to establish relationships with many of the artists, one of them being Tia, so once I returned home I got in touch with them and got connected with many other musicians in New York City.

The science has always remained with me. I loved the science because it taught me a lot about the principles about life. The science I studied became a foundation for understanding how we as human beings interact with everything around us. It teaches you to be respectful and observant of the past, present and future and all life,  to be aware of your community and to be a positive and effective source to the world  (humans, animals, nature). Spiritually this meant a lot to me and I always knew that music has a way of bringing these concepts together. When you play, you play to uplift people, to touch their lives and to make them reflective or feel moved and inspired. The music also serves as a voice of time or history, reminding people of who they are, how far they have come and also serves as an initiator of change to the future (where they’re going).  So music, for me, was a way of preserving these beliefs/principles  and sharing them with the world to make a better place.

You support yourself with music.  You do this full-time.  Is live music in such demand that it is easy to support yourself?  Or do you find yourself sometimes thinking about picking up a regular job gig?

Well the musicians of today have to practice the skill of balance; having multiple sources of supporting yourself. It is possible to make a living in performance full time but it depends on the genre or what field you’re trying to work in. I not only perform (as a leader/sidewoman) but I also teach (clinics/lectures), compose and record. Many times I work with multiple genres. I play gospel, r&b, pop and recorded for hip-hop  but my passion is Jazz; Jazz has a special place in my heart. As far as picking up a regular job gig, I don’t consider it because me being a full time musician is my job, whether or not you have a “gig” date to play. There’s work as a musician that doesn’t require performance but is still has to be done; booking, promotion, composing, arranging, teaching, production, management, graphic design, web design, etc.. It’s an endless list of things that have to be completed. I think the trick to it is having balance, being organized and realizing that you are your own boss/business and that it comes with great responsibility. No one will hire you if you don’t’ hire yourself first (complete and accomplish your work goals thoroughly; have a solid product)