Tuning into WNUA 95.5, what used to be a smooth jazz radio station in Chicago, Hosea “Zae” Connie remembers hearing Kirk Whalum’s “The Wave” and becoming intrigued at how the saxophone could give off the same emotion as a lead singer. Soon after, Connie discovered other contemporary smooth jazz saxophonists and fell in love.
“I was so inspired by their work that I practically begged my mom for a saxophone until she finally got me my very first alto saxophone in January of 2009. Shortly afterwards, I self-taught myself for about three months until I started taking private lessons from Tom Matecki and Walter Clark,” said the musician.
As a teenager, Connie wasn’t sure how his peers would receive his musical skills, but decided to take a chance and enter in his first high school talent show.
“I performed ‘All Star’ by Mindi Abair from her ‘In Hi-Fi Stereo’ album and won first place in the process,” said Connie. “After my performance went well, it was then that I decided to make playing and performing the saxophone my career.”
For the next several years, Connie continued honing his skills. After graduating from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff in May 2016, he began performing at numerous venues around Chicago – and remembers one that he will never forget.
“In the summer of 2016, shortly after graduating, I had the amazing opportunity to perform with the Chicago Blues All Stars at The House of Blues in downtown Chicago. This performance had a large impact on me because it was my first major performance at a major venue ever since graduation.”
With the unforgettable performance, Connie will continue spreading the sounds of the Saxophone and shares that his love from music stems from it having its own unique language that everyone understands.
“Throughout all my years of playing and performing music, I have learned that not only is it a language that everyone can understand, but also everyone can relate to. Not only with jazz, but with rap, hip hop, R&B, soul, gospel, etc. Music has its effect on everyone.”
The musician, who is also an aspiring railroad modeler, hopes that through his music he can inspire other instrumentalists to live out their dreams.
“If you work hard enough on your craft and keep honing your skills, you can be the best at what you do and more. They say that practice makes perfect and I believe that to be very true. The message that I hope to spread with my music is that you can make it as an instrumentalist and anything that you put your mind to.”
In the next five years, Connie hopes to see himself with his own original album, his own band and touring the world as an independent artist.