Stargazer: Jamey Heath
Wouldn’t it be cool if you and your cousins sang on an award-winning music album together? That’s what happened to Jamey Heath at age 10. Since his dad was a musician, Jamey often spent time in a recording studio. With his family and friends, he recorded the album Happy Ayyám-i-Há.
At 13, Jamey started playing in bands, and by 14 he was earning money. Since then, he’s built a successful career as a composer and studio producer. He’s supported the work of artists such as Gladys Knight and companies such as Disney and SoulPancake.
In 2013, Jamey released a Bahá’í-inspired album called I Have Returned to Thee. He loves being of service, so you may meet him at Bahá’í conferences in California, Wisconsin, and anywhere he’s asked to share his talents. Jamey and his family currently live in Los Angeles, California.
Q: What’s a favorite childhood memory?
One of my . . . memories . . . is traveling with the [Bahá’í youth] workshop. We went all around the country and to Canada as well . . . and I got to build some amazing friendships . . . and got to learn the value of service . . . . [Those were] some good, good, amazing times in my life, for sure.
Q: What was the most challenging experience that you had to deal with as a kid, and how did you handle it?
School . . . I was so distracted with music, and so I made a deal with my parents that if I could get accepted into this music college school in 10th grade instead of going to school, I would go to this music college. And you had to be 18 to get in, [but] I got accepted . . . I left school and went straight to music college . . .
Q: What inspired you to choose a career in music?
I was raised in a musical family . . . The studio that my family owned also had living quarters, and school was right there, so I spent all my time in the studio. And I just kind of always knew how to do it. I always had an instrument in my hand . . . It was playing piano, guitar, but really it was producing. I always had a knack for technology and recording and arranging. I was always interested in accessing music and taking it apart, trying to put it back together with some new elements.
Q: What three qualities do you think are most important for a successful musician?
Being prolific. Really, really writing a lot of things, you know. Just keep grinding away and not have one or two, three, four songs, but have many, many pieces of music . . . You don't take one dart at a time and try to hit the bull's eye. You grab ten darts in your hand and you throw all of them at the dart board . . . It's a much better chance of getting one to stick . . . Use your music to be of service . . . Learn how to collaborate and work with people, because everyone is connected to something, and there's so much to learn from other people. And learning from other people also opens doors for yourself when that wouldn't otherwise maybe happen.
Q: Can you think of things that kids can do to help build unity in their communities?
Being involved in junior youth programs for sure . . . They are not just hanging out. They are doing something with purpose. So that’s definitely helping build unity in our community. [And] . . . I think sports . . . I’ve noticed that when my son is involved . . . he makes friends in so many different . . . areas outside of our own because of sports, the camaraderie that that brings.
Q: Do you ever feel nervous before you perform and if you do, what do you do about it?
Yeah. You know, I'm going to have to probably go with no . . . Maybe it's because most of it is service-oriented, so it's like you know, I'm with God at the moment, whereas maybe if I was on stage doing something that's actually Jamey Heath and you're coming to see my song, then maybe that would be different . . . Some of the conferences I do, what I always do when I go up is . . . do a short prayer. And I'll say if you allow me to just sing a prayer so I can just humble myself and stay connected, so maybe that's part of why the nerves aren't really there is I'm always starting with a prayer.
Q: What's one virtue that you admire in other people?
I admire when I see people express themselves, express love for other people. I admire when I hear other people say “I love you” instead of “love you,” when they use the word “I.” You know, just that they are able to be vulnerable with that. Vulnerability really gets me. And honesty. When I was a kid, honesty was something that I had to work, work hard on. I had some qualities that were kind of easier for me and some that, you know, I had to work on. I guess that's with everybody.
Q: From your experience, do you have advice for kids who want to be professional musicians someday?
One of the things that I tell a lot of people that I work with, new kids that are already involved, is to absolutely learn how to . . . connect . . . People hire people that they like . . . It just goes back to being good to people and actually be invested in who they are . . . It really requires knowing people and, you know, knowing how to get along with people.
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