Twenty-three year-old saxophonist Mylon Clarke has big dreams. But he also knows there will be challenges he will face as he tries to achieve them.
And even though he is constantly thinking about whether he will be able to accomplish all that he has set for himself, Mylon has no plans of giving up.
Last December, he got a glimpse of what it would be like to live his dreams and since then he has been on a mission to see them come to fruition.
He won a scholarship to the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts, for a five-week internship. Mylon told Bajan Vibes that it was the opportunity of a lifetime for him.
“I was fortunate to win a scholarship through Sagicor and Derek Walcott from the Christmas Jazz production . . . It was an awesome experience. I got to learn a lot of things, not only musically but also about different ethnic and social backgrounds. Being at the school helped me to express myself more as a musician and to be comfortable with who I am, to be more confident in my craft.”
Since that exposure Mylon has wanted to pursue a degree at the school full-time, but admitted that it is not possible right now.
“Being there for five weeks sparked my interest and this is why I now dream of attending full-time. But it’s like US$65 000 a year and that’s just tuition . . . While I was there I gained a certificate. I got a Grade A average so I won three transferable credits to any school that I decide to go to . . . but financially it’s very hard,” the former Parkinson Memorial School student said.
However, he said he is sincerely grateful to have been given the opportunity.
“I would like to thank Derek Walcott and Sagicor for the scholarship and providing such a great opportunity to go to Berklee.”
In the meantime, Mylon said he is focusing on honing his skills, adding, “God and my love and passion for music [are] what drive me and I will not give up.”
“I’m trying to be a better musician, trying to learn as much as I can and hopefully get overseas and do tours and so on. I have been practising, doing gigs and preparing for a tour next year. I have also been working on an album with the, 1688 Orchestraled by Stefan Walcott, and preparing for the Bequia Music Festival in January. I had the opportunity to do a couple tours – Suriname, Carifesta Jazz Festival St Lucia Jazz Festival – and Bequia coming in January, and hopefully Europe early next year,” he added.
Mylon also has his own band, Mylon Clarke and The Project.
“I decided to start my own band because I had a vision of bringing back the idea of live entertainment in Barbados . . . I had a vision that I could do live entertainment, but in an instrumental form,” the shy musician said.
Mylon acknowledged during an interview with Bajan Vibes in Queen’s Park, on a breezy Tuesday afternoon, that working with renowned saxophonist Arturo Tappin has helped and guided his career tremendously.
Giving thanks for his mentorship, the musician said, “I did a concert with him last year, his City Nights concert in Frank Collymoore Hall. It was an awesome experience. I really look up to him, not only about music but as it pertains to life. He is my inspiration.”
Mylon added that because of Arturo he intends to pursue music as a full-time career, despite the challenges.
“Being a full-time musician in Barbados is a bit of a struggle because the arts, in general, is seen as a hobby. I’m not taken seriously as an artiste sometimes. Some people that travel oversees and study abroad, they see an artiste as a normal job, but the ones here don’t really see it that way, so sometimes it’s hard,” he added.
But giving up is not an option for this young man who said that “the sax chose me”.
“When I was at school, at that time my music teacher was Paul Thorne. At the time I was playing the recorder and he said I should move on to another wind instrument. I wanted to play the clarinet but he said ‘there is only one sax and the other clarinets aren’t working to well’, so that’s how I got playing the sax. I am very glad I made the decision to play sax back them,” he said with a huge smile.
Overall, Mylon said he is just looking to be the best and see his dreams come true, including working with some top artistes in the industry.
“Plenty artistes I would like to work with, living and dead. Earth Wind and Fire, Machel Montano, Alicia Keys. I try to be as versatile as possible. I don’t only play jazz, I play pop R&B, rock, soca, reggae, spouge . . . ,” he said.