Home Musician Groovin’ with Chelsey Green – The Bay State Banner

Groovin’ with Chelsey Green – The Bay State Banner


VSHelsey Green will perform live music at the BAMS Festival in Franklin Park on June 11. Green, who grew up in Houston, Texas, is a genre-defying singer, violinist, songwriter, and associate professor at Berklee College of Music. By creating music that is both personally expressive and draws from the rich traditions of African-American historical imperatives, Green creates new, yet familiar sounds. His music goes straight to the point. By intentionally reshaping perceptions of this musical essence, she asks listeners to rethink the cultural experience. Green recently spoke to Banner about his work.

With what and with whom will you play at the BAMS Festival?
It’s going to be me and my band, The Green Project, performing a set of what I like to call the feel-good kind of music! A lot of people ask me about the genre, where my music fits: it’s a mix of jazz, soul, R&B, funk – and definitely classical.

Chelsey Green and the Green Project. COURTESY PHOTO

Tell us about the green project.
This is my contemporary music ensemble. I’m on violin, viola and vocals; Cory Baker on electric and synthesized bass; Ignatius Perry is at the keys; and Brian “Spyda” Wheatley is our drummer. The impetus behind forming the band is to experiment and create sounds, my goal being to disrupt subconscious musical sensibilities.

Subconscious musical sensitivities?
Our subconscious awareness can stifle our awareness of what art is. Jazz was always meant to be a contemporary art. So with our music we want to evoke every moment: that’s what keeps art fresh!

What is your job at Berklee?
I just finished my fifth year. I am housed in the string department. I teach the ensemble, among other things. And while teaching at Berklee, I do a lot of innovation. It keeps me on my toes as an artist and an educator. What I like about this generation that grew up with social networks is that in addition to being a challenge, it’s a good tool. They feel limitless because of it.

You also launched your own educational program, TGP Educational Outreach.
We have workshops focused on the power of what music can do. It’s an extension of The Green Project, and we work in kindergarten classrooms, nursing homes, and Fortune 500 companies. We cover a range of topics, including focus and creation. This is a breathtaking opportunity!

What were you doing during the pandemic?
It was hard for many of us. I felt isolated, alone and without family nearby and without musical performances. All of this led me to be more introspective, and I felt more like a human being who is apart of what I do as a musician. So it was transformative: it transformed my approach to music. And these days, it’s a divine experience to connect with the public.

How did you come to the violin?
It was not my choice! I come from a family of musicians. My mother had pre-determined that whatever came out would play the violin! I started taking lessons when I was 4 years old. And I have a dad who is a musician and composer. Music was the language of the house. I was coming back from a violin lesson and he said, “Play that Herbie Hancock tune with me!”

Any advice for young people starting out?
One of my biggest things is that our young people need to dig deeper, to dive into historical context. To discover the stories of artists from previous generations, what they experienced. Like Blanche Calloway, older sister of Cab Calloway, who was a great singer and songwriter; she was the first female band leader and an all-male band leader. Or Charlie Parker: I ask students, “What would his Instagram posts look like?” Understand your ancestors.