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Horace Tapscott: Musical Griot

This is a sponsored post. The author Jay Just Smilez was remunerated by being granted free admission to the Houston Cinema Arts Festival to review the documentary / film. 


Of the few things that can evoke strong positive emotion out of me, the top two are good food, and music. The latter more strongly than anything else. I spent greater part of my earlier years developing a relationship with music that has fueled my passion for it to this day. From playing in the band throughout the entirety of my middle/high school years, to singing in the church choir, my heart has always beat to whatever the music’s tempo was that pierced it. Music has been a necessity to my life, and my love it, a legacy to pass to my child. Over the past 30 years of my life I have been the progressive change of music, from artists whose career peaked before I even knew what music really was to what music has become today.

So I was beyond excited when the opportunity to view Horace Tapscott: Musical Griot, at the Houston Cinema Arts Festival. A film that took director, Barbara McCullough, 14 years to make, it gives an intimate view into the life and musical career of Horace Tapscott. The beauty of the director’s dedication shined throughout this film as I got to witness recorded live performances and accounts of Horace’s life from his own lips.

Horace Tapscott was born in 1934 in Houston, Texas, and even as a child, music was ingrained into him by his parents. He spoke of learning instruments as being his family’s normal when he was a child and the transition to it becoming his passion. His family moved to California while Horace was still young, and even then, it was priority number one that he see where he would have music lessons before he saw his new home for the first time.

Throughout the film, the prevalent theme that captured me was that music was his life. He takes you on his journey through life, sharing accounts of those who invested in his growth as a jazz pianist and as a man. From his band teacher whose students were his legacy, to the musicians who gave him a chance as a young teen, to forming the Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra in the early 60s.

The film not only highlighted Horace as a musician, but as someone who was passionate about the elevation of the Black community. Within his 57 years of life, Horace invested his time and support to the Civil Rights movement and the Black Power Revolution. His willingness to stand by his convictions did not seem to waver, even when it hindered his music from going mainstream.

Director Barbara McCullough’s work captured Horace Tapscott’s life, music and contributions into a film that was masterfully knitted together to show you who the artist was, where his passions laid, and how music shaped his life.

This review was written by Jay-Just-Smilez, if you want to know more about the writer, her details are listed below:

Jay Just Smilez
Janai Smith

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