Our Music Magnet Artists-as-Mentors program seeks to bring Los Angeles-based professional and other working musicians to guest teach and guide our young musicians as much as their busy schedules will allow. We want to inspire our scholar musicians to merge their passion for music with the discipline that is required to become virtuosos on their instruments. Who better to help do this than those who at one time were also young musicians who persevered through long hours of study to master their instruments and become sought after artists locally and nationally.
One such mentor artist who will be working with music magnet students is noted guitarist Paul Jackson, Jr. Mr. Jackson is one of the most recorded guitarists in history. He recently recorded his eighth album, Stories from Stompin' Willie. He was guitarist on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and for American Idol. As a sought after session guitarist, he has played on albums by a veritable Who's Who of popular and jazz artists including Michael Jackson (notably on the albums Thriller, Bad, and Dangerous), Whitney Houston, Elton John, Patti Labelle, George Duke, George Benson, Al Jarreau, Dave Koz, and Kirk Whalum!
Another stellar artist joining the Hillcrest school community is Brenda Lee Eager. Ms Eager works with the Hillcrest Music Magnet Choir and Community School Choir, delivering a professional vocalist's and song writer's expertise and experience to inspire our budding scholar-artists to pursue their artistic passion. Her engaging style and undying belief in and love for our students as creative and capable youngsters has given us a glimpse of just what is possible in terms of developing their musical talents. Ms. Eager's Wikipedia page tells just how much she brings to Hillcrest's students. She was the lead singer in Jerry Butler's backup group. She recorded several singles with Butler, the first of which, "Ain't Understanding Mellow", was her biggest chart success, reaching # 3 on the Billboard R&B chart and # 21 on the Hot 100. It sold over one million copies and was awarded a gold disc by the R.I.A.A in April 1972. Their duet version of "(They Long to Be) Close to You" reached # 6 on the R&B chart and # 91 on the pop chart in 1972. She also sang regularly in Rev. Jesse Jackson's Operation Breadbasket Choir in Chicago in the early 1970s. (Source: Wikipedia)
Dr. Dawn Norfleet is a quintessential teaching artist who will also mentor our music students. Dr. Norfleet’s academic and musical gifts as a flutist, vocalist, and composer were developed and nurtured by then-flourishing LAUSD school programs and a musical family. After graduating from Wellesley College, "Dr. Dawn" earned an M.A. in Classical musical composition, then a Ph.D. in ethnomusicology from Columbia University. It was in grad school that she began her professional career as a musician in New York's jazz scene. Dawn eventually returned home to Los Angeles' music scene. She has performed with diverse artists such as acclaimed jazz saxophonist, Kamasi Washington, MacArthur "Genius Award"-winning pianist, Vijay Iyer, and R&B star, Monica. As bandleader, she has performed at Jazz at Los Angeles County Museum of Art, California African American Museum, and Grammy Museum. Dr. Norfleet is a passionate advocate for arts in public schools. She has directed music programs at successful charter schools, volunteers as a mentor with the ACT-SO program, an NAACP-sponsored youth initiative celebrating excellence in high school students of color, and has served as Teaching Artist with our friends at Colburn School of Music.
Another artist-as-mentor who has committed to helping our Hillcrest student musicians is James "Timbali" Cornwell. Mr. Cornwell is a sought after percussionist extraordinaire who lives and breathes rhythms. The artists he has recorded and/or performed with include Earth, Wind, and Fire, Maxwell, Brandy, Gerald Levert, Carrie Lucas, The Whispers, and Smokey Robinson. He also hand crafts his very own line of shekeres!
Darryl Moore aka JMD is another stellar addition to the artist-as mentor roster. Mr. Moore is well known throughout Los Angeles music circles as a performer, producer and recording engineer. He is a superb drummer with a broad musical vocabulary. But his two mainstays are jazz and hiphop. Mr. Moore has performed with a diverse group of talented musicians including Chick Corea, Billy Childs, Horace Tapscott, Lowell Fulson, Bennie Maupin, Don Cherry, The Pan African Peoples Arkestra, Solomon Burk, The Pharcyde, and The Underground Railroad. As a recording engineer he has worked on projects for Eyrkah Badu, George Clinton, Madlib, Georgia Anne Muldrow, Dudley Perkins, Acey Alone, Nate Morgan, and Disney Studio Projects. And as a producer he’s worked alongside artists that include The Pharcyde, Freestyle Fellowship, Medusa, Volume-10, George Clinton, Strange Fruit, and The Watts Prophets!
We are grateful to Mr. Jackson, Ms. Eager, Dr. Norfleet, Mr. Cornwell, and Mr. Moore for signing on to be a part of this exciting endeavor, and are looking to have a mentor/guest teacher for each of the instruments played by our scholars. If you are, or know of, a musician who wants to give back to the community, this would be a hugely rewarding experience for both her or him and the students too! Call our Magnet Coordinator Stephanie Austin at the school at 323-296-6867 or email her
for more information about this incredible program.