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Young Musicians Honor Veteran Performers in Los Angeles


In Los Angeles, young musicians have honored established performers who have blazed a trail for other artists to follow. The 1,200-member American Society of Young Musicians recently presented its annual awards, and drew attention to its efforts helping young artists avoid the pitfalls of the music business.

The event at the House of Blues, a Los Angeles music club, featured the actor Billy Bob Thornton, who presented an award on behalf of the young musicians to country star Dwight Yoakam.

"He's an amazing actor, an amazing songwriter, amazing musician,” he said.

The honoree said he was flattered.

"I guess it's an auspicious moment for me because I've been around now about 20 years, and to have young musicians and young artists, young writers acknowledge that you're even still around is more than I could have asked for 20 years ago," Mr. Yoakam said.

A 32-year-old musician named Brian Culbertson, with eight albums behind him already, has the kind of career that many performers envy. He received the jazz award from the organization of young musicians.

The son of a trumpet player, he started with piano at age eight, then moved on to drums, trombone, and other instruments.

"And from then on, I just buried my self in the basement with a couple of keyboards and just worked as much as I could," Mr. Culbertson said.

While attending De Paul University in Chicago, he sent a tape to the father of a friend who worked for a record company.

"And he called me back and said, hey, when can you finish a whole record? I'm like, Oh my God. I'm freaking out. I'm still in college," he added.

Brian Culbertson released his first album at 21, and has been turning out recordings and touring ever since then, playing a style of music called "smooth jazz." His latest album is titled Hookin' Up.

Jarvee Hutcherson is national president of the American Society of Young Musicians. Its members, in 18 chapters around the United States, are students or young professionals - rockers, rappers, jazz musicians and country singers. He says too many young performers succumb to drugs and alcohol, and that is something the society helps them with.

"We assist young musicians with scholarships, musicians that have problems, housing problems, drug problems. And we're turning that around, and I think we've made great stride in putting musicians back on the right track," he said.

The young musicians vote for award winners, selecting those whose careers have inspired them. This year's honorees include the rock band the Goo Goo Dolls, contemporary singer Josh Groban, Hip Hop artist Common, and actress and Broadway singer Kristin Chenoweth. Lisa Marie Presley was named favorite new vocalist.

Veteran gospel and soul singer Solomon Burke, now 65, was honored for his trailblazing work in the 1960s. He has had his ups and downs, and has worked as a mortician during career slumps. He tells young performers to remember that the music industry is a business.

"Get as much education and knowledge and wisdom about what you're entering into,” Mr. Burke said. “Never sign a document without having read it well and having someone who knows the business to read it and understand it and explain it to you. Copyright all of your songs and your music. If you don't know how to copyright it, the beauty of life today is there's a word called Internet that will inform you of everything you need to do."

He says steer clear of the drugs and alcohol, which have derailed the careers of many promising artists.

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