Charlie’s NEA Jazz Masters Award Speech

For those who may have missed Charlie’s NEA Jazz Masters Award thank you speech in January, here it is:

“THANK-YOU NEA FOR THIS WONDERFUL AWARD. I’M DEEPLY HONORED.

I’VE ALWAYS FELT VERY FORTUNATE TO HAVE BEEN BORN IN THIS COUNTRY SURROUNDED BY THE BEAUTIFUL MUSIC THAT CAME FROM THE APPALACHIAN AND OZARK MOUNTAINS WHERE I WAS BORN.

I STARTED SINGING ON MY FAMILY’S RADIO SHOW WHEN I WAS TWO YEARS OLD. MY MOTHER USED TO TAKE ME TO THE AFRICAN AMERICAN CHURCH ONE OR TWO SUNDAYS A MONTH SO THAT WE COULD EXPERIENCE THE MUSIC. IT WAS SO INSPIRING.

MY FATHER TOOK ME TO MY FIRST JAZZ CONCERT IN SPRINGFIELD, MISSOURI WHEN I WAS THIRTEEN. A LOT OF GREAT JAZZ MUSICIANS CAME FROM MISSOURI: CHARLIE PARKER, MILES DAVIS, JIMMY BLANTON.

I LEARNED AT A VERY YOUNG AGE THAT MUSIC TEACHES YOU ABOUT LIFE BECAUSE WHEN YOU ARE IN THE MIDST OF IMPROVISATION THERE IS NO YESTERDAY AND NO TOMORROW – THERE IS ONLY THE MOMENT YOU ARE IN.

IN THAT BEAUTIFUL MOMENT YOU EXPERIENCE YOUR TRUE INSIGNIFICANCE TO THE REST OF THE UNIVERSE – AND IT IS THEN- THAT YOU CAN EXPERIENCE YOUR TRUE SIGNIFICANCE TO THIS UNIVERSE.

I THANK THE NEA FOR THEIR VITAL SUPPORT OVER THE YEARS. I THANK MY FAMILY – MY PARENTS AND SIBLINGS WHO BEGAN MY MUSICAL JOURNEY WITH ME; MY SON JOSH, AND DAUGHTERS, PETRA, TANYA AND RACHEL; MY GRANDSONS SAMMY, TOMMY AND CHASE.

I THANK MY WIFE, RUTH CAMERON, WITHOUT WHOSE DEDICATION AND LOVE I WOULD NOT BE HERE TODAY.

I THANK ALL THE WONDERFUL MUSICIANS WHO HAVE INSPIRED ME OVER THE YEARS FROM BACH TO RACHMANINOV TO CHARLIE PARKER TO THE GREAT ORNETTE COLEMAN AND MANY MORE THROUGHOUT THE WORLD AND THROUGHOUT THE CENTURIES.

I AM TRULY HUMBLED.”

Charlie Haden, January 10, 2012

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