Today we’d like to introduce you to John Conner.
John, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I’m born and raised on the westside of Atlanta, and like most musicians, my story began in the church. While attending Collier Heights Elementary School, I began to play the flute in the 3rd grade. Simultaneously, I would also carry my flute to church (Beulah Baptist Church [Atlanta]) and began playing along with the hymns. During that time, I was under the tutelage of Rev. Arthur McClenton. The more I played, the more I began to realize I was very good at “playing by ear”; a talent that Rev. McClenton helped me to foster. I continued to play throughout middle school (Jean Childs Young Middle), high school (Frederick Douglass High School), where I also served as one of the drum majors in the marching band, and eventually college (Morehouse College) where I also served as section leader and drum major. As I experienced life around me, I gained an appreciation for ALL genres of music and incorporated into my style of play. Upon graduation from Morehouse, I began teaching Band at Crawford W. Long Middle School. This not only allowed me to spread my love for music to others but also fine-tune my own skillset on additional brass, percussion, and woodwind instruments.
During the day I would teach and at night I would find any opportunity to perform. As one of the few black male flautist, I began to make a name for myself by performing at open-mics around Atlanta. Some venues would include Apache Cafe, Kat’s Cafe, Sweetwater Lounge, Dream Cafe. Venkman’s, Pal’s Lounge, and Harold’s Chicken and Icebar; just to name a few. Eventually, I began performing in restaurants around the city such as Copeland’s, Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen, FUMI Habachi and Sushi, and Sweet Potato Cafe. I’ve performed countless weddings, galas, birthday parties, anniversaries, banquets. On May 8th, 2019 I released my debut album entitled, “Melodic Ascension.” It was produced by DJ Burn One and the Five Points Bakery while featuring amazing talents such as Big Rube, Anna Valena, and Siraaj Rhett. This past June, I was blessed to perform the National Anthem for the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream. Now that I’ve completed my doctorate degree in Music Education from The University of Georgia, I plan to work tirelessly to complete my sophomore album all while spreading the healing of music around the world.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Growing up, I often got bullied for being a male flute player. I took it with a grain of salt because I knew the aptitude of my talent and my worth. Ultimately, I used my uniqueness as strength and relished in the fact that I was different and not like everyone else. In regards to performing at open mics, I constantly found myself trying to see what “lane” I fit in. In the past, instruments such as flute and violin were considered unorthodox in that type of setting; however, they are now becoming commonplace. I had to constantly remind myself, “just do you.” The struggles I had in the process of creating my first album were mainly financial. I’m an independent artist, thus every expense came out of my pocket: payment for the producer. The features, studio time, album development and duplication, photoshoots, the album release party, distribution, etc. It became very pricey. I’m already saving up now because I want the next album to be even bigger!
We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
My business is John William, Flautist LLC. I am a professional flute player. I do play other instruments as well such as clarinet, saxophone (soprano, alto, tenor), trumpet, trombone, baritone, tuba, french horn, and most percussion instruments, but I specialize in flute/piccolo. As a performer, I’m grateful that I’m able to maneuver within a multitude of performance functions. I’ve performed countless weddings, funerals, galas, birthday parties, anniversaries, banquets, New Year’s Eve’s parties, corporate events, live jam sessions, concert band concerts, and studio sessions. I enjoyed not being pigeonholed into one type of performance. Furthermore, I can play a variety of music genres including but not limited to R&B, Gospel, Jazz, Hip-Hop, Classical, Pop, Latin, Soft Rock, Blues, and Neo-Soul. When I play, I like to give my flute a voice. Through various techniques such as trills, note bending, glissandos, and tonguing I attempt to create a sound that makes me identifiable from any other flautist.
Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
So many people have been extremely integral in my success thus far. First and foremost I have to credit my mother Janice and father LeRoy for getting me a flute, believing in me, instilling in me a sense of musicianship and hard work, and making sure I remained steadfast on my goals. They were there when I had church performances, school concerts, marching band performances, and recitals. Their support never waivered and their love is evident with every note that emerges from my flute.
Next, I want to credit my mentor Rev. Arthur McClenton. He is the reason I excelled on flute while growing up. He took me under his wing and mentored me every Sunday while at church. While at Morehouse College, I was fortunate to do my student teaching under his tutelage thereby helping me to become an excellent music educator.
My biggest advocate is undoubtedly my older brother LeRoy Erran Conner. While growing up, he never bullied me for playing the flute; an instrument that at the time was considered a “girl’s instrument.” He supported me. Often times, he saw more greatness in me than I even saw in myself. From the onset of my professional performing career, he coined me “The Hip Hop Flautist” and would push me to work on my album. It seemed as if every week he would ask me “Have you worked on the album yet shawty?” Specializing in mass media and video production, he was integral in broadcasting my talents on a public platform and he continues to do that today.
My wife Angela has been a huge supporter as well. Being married to a musician is no easy feat. That task comes with patience, understanding, and compromise. She’s always there to give me ideas in regards to music to perform, marketing ideas, and how to make my brand flourish. There are other individuals who also support me and keep me motivated. My Crawford W. Long family, Beaulah Baptist Church family, and a host of close friends. Thank you to Seth Garcia for capturing the essence of my brand through photography. I want to credit anyone who ever hired me for an event, friends who came out to support me at gigs, anyone who has purchased/streamed my album, and anywho who spreads the word of my music. Thank you!!
I certainly want to acknowledge DJ Burn One and the Five Points Bakery. He made the process of producing my album very easy. He’s a true professional and a phenomenal musician. Also, I want to thank Big Rube, Anna Valena, and Siraaj Rhett for bringing their unique talents and skillsets to my album to truly bring it to life!
- A physical CD can be purchased for $10 by emailing your address to Nepo02@yahoo.com
- All donations to to production of my next album can be sent to: Cash App: $johnwilliamflautist Pay Pal: Nepo02@yahoo.com
- Website: http://www.johnwilliamflautist.com/home/
- Phone: (404)290-5087
- Email: Nepo02@yahoo.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/johnwilliamflautist/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JohnWilliamFlautist/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/jowillflautist
Seth R. Garcia of the SG3 Media Solutions, LLC.