Congratulations to James Reese, the 107.3 JAMZ Upstate Black History Maker for February 10, 2019!
Throughout his life’s pursuits in volunteering and education, his focus has always been on mentoring young people and those wishing to express themselves through music.
He came to Spartanburg, SC, in 1966 as a Music Educator/Band Director for the District II School System. Although the school names have changed, many of the band programs that he started — over fifty years ago — are still flourishing today! In 1985, he and his lovely wife Jonni became members of Evangel Cathedral and he began serving as a volunteer leader in the Music & Arts Department. After serving for twelve years, he was ordained in 1997 and hired as a full-time Associate Pastor. It is worthy to note that he started a Music Academy at Evangel and made it available to musicians of all ages throughout the Upstate. This gave him an opportunity to mentor many individuals. (Some of his students have gone on to become known worldwide!)
His tenure on the pastoral staff at Evangel Cathedral continued until July of 2015, when Evangel Cathedral merged with Free Chapel. For several years, Minister Reese has served as the Music Director, Writer, Arranger for the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Unity Celebration in Spartanburg. This event features the talents of the unique, 200+ member Sounds of Diversity Choir and Orchestra. In 2008, he was honored by the city of Spartanburg as Volunteer of The Year.
In addition to his career as a Music Educator, he has played trombone in several professional bands and orchestras, both local and national. As a member of the Bohannon Motown Sound (orchestra), he toured with the Temptations, Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson and more. Other bands and orchestras in which he played afforded him the opportunity to perform with The Jackson Five, Teddy Pendergrass, Al Green and James Brown.
He recently released a unique Instrumental Methods Book entitled: Hot Grooves For Cool Players – Things I’ve Learned Along The Way That Will Help You Play Better Today (available online!). Minister Reese also released a video entitled “The Bus”. This professional, seven-minute production contains a powerful message on perseverance and not giving up. An accomplished composer and arranger, his works have earned him recognition in the USA, Europe and Asia.
Minister Reese and his wife Jonni are blessed with a daughter, two sons and two grandsons.
Lastly, he is a South Carolina State University alumnus and is quick to inform you that he is an original member of the famous SCSU Marching 101!
Please join us in congratulating this 2019 Upstate Black History Maker!