Awadagin Pratt is not the stereotypical classical pianist, but there’s absolutely no doubting his talent.
While he is certainly not the first African American to find success in the somewhat rarefied world of classical piano, he has presented unique challenges to the establishment.
First, thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s his appearance. With long dreadlocks and a full beard, he looks like someone most people would expect to find behind a set of steel drums instead of at the keyboard of a concert piano. Inspired in part by tennis star Yannick Noah, Pratt says he just thinks the dreadlocks look good on him. And, he never wears a tuxedo on stage in order to make classical music feel more approachable for young people.
Second, and more importantly, thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s his musicianship. He has been earning rave reviews since winning the prestigious Naumburg International Piano Competition in 1992 and an Avery Fisher Career Grant in 1994. Since then, heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s released several CDs on the Angel/EMI label, including an all-Bach recording in 2002.
It is unfortunate that, like many other African Americans, he has been the target of overt racial discrimination. However, his talent has definitely been recognised.
He aims to be a good role model for young black musicians.
His web site has much more information including his biography, discography and concert listings.
The full article in The Weekly is here: Dreadlocked classical pianist overcame discrimination to launch international career