We had the good fortune of connecting with Darryl Durham and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Darryl, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
Risk and opportunity go hand in hand for me. I don’t mind taking a risk as long as it leads to an opportunity down the road. I would even go so far as to call that a calculated risk. I prefer that over taking a risk just for the sake of it. I’ve taken risks at every stage of my career. For me that has meant venturing into a field that I have a passion for but little training or experience.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
My career has been a combination of two careers in one. In the initial stage of my career, I was both an arts educator and administrator. Teaching clarinet while designing and implementing programs during and after-school. All the while I continued to practice and perform to keep that aspect of my training in shape. I chose to become an educator /administrator because I wanted to influence arts education through administration rather than as an artists. I also received a consistent pay check which helped pay the bills. I’ve known too many talented and gifted artists over my 48 year career who burned out because they couldn’t practice their art and survive at the same time. I made the decision early on to survive until I was in the position to comfortably produce and create without the disraction of survival. In practical terms, that meant I have maintained a practice routine of 3 hours daily practice on the clarinet throughour the course of my 30 year plus career as an educator and administrator. Now that I’ve reaped the benefits of that 30 year career, I can comfortably transition into my artists mode with the financial security to live and produce on my terms. Of course, there is always a sacrifice and the sacrifice I made was in my personal life. There are only so many hours in the day and to spend 12 – 14 hours on a job and practicing leaves little time to devote to a family.
I’m most proud of the success of the students I’ve worked with throughout the years. I’ve been lucky enough to have many of them reach out to me via social media and thank me for pushing them to achieve. Many have gone on to successful careers as artists however I’m most proud of those who have changed the trajectory of their lives for the better thanks to the work they’ve done. The kid who decides to turn away from the streets and live an honest life is just as successful to me as the one who has success in the music field.
I got to where I am by taking chances, working very hard, believing in myself and the vision given to me by God and surrounding myself with individuals who want to acheive and are not afraid of success. Nothing worth having comes easy. There were so many times when I could have quit, but I wanted to succeed so much that I was able to work through the difficult period. To be honest, I did quit for a while, but the urge to keep at it brought me back to the one thing I love…. music and youth education.
I overcame the challenges through my faith in God and belief in myself. I also had the support of friends and family who believed in me and my ability.
The lesson I’ve learned in life is that you should never give up because success is literally right around the corner if you stick with it.
I want the world to know that one person can make a difference. You have the ability to influence individuals and situations either positively or negatively so you decide what type of influence you want to have. At the end of the day, I can look at myself in the mirro and know I did my best for humankind.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Food – L’il Dizzy’s, Mandina’s, Fatma’s cozy corner (I’ve gotten to know these spots over the years. Fatma’s in the Treme is a great spot for breakfast, L’il dizzy, also in the Treme is the best lunch spot and Mandina’s in Mid-City is an old school restaurant known for their traditional recipies.
Music – There are lots of good places to go for music however I would suggest Frenchman Street, On Frenchmen you have all types of clubs jazz from Reggae, traditional New Orleans Jazz, Latin , etc… Plus you have lots of music on the street.
Arts and culture – I would suggest a tour of the Treme. It is the birthplace of Jazz and African-American culture and depending on the day you might see a Jazz funeral, some Mardi gras Indians or a brass band parade. there are large museums such as the African American Museum and the Petit Treme Jazz Museum. Restaurants, Armstraong Park, Mahalia Jackson Theater, Tuba Fats Square and plenty of street theater provided by the locals.
Hang out/Drinks – For evening drinks and hang out spots I would suggest Freret Street in Mid-city. It’s located near Tulane and Loyola University with plenty of bars eateries and places to dance.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
St. Anna’s Episcopal Church in New Orleans and Father Bill Terry the Rector were very important in helping me achieve my goal as an artists and educator. Father Bill gave me a chance to implement the program at his church and try out some of my theories on arts education. The congregation of St. Anna’s not only embraced the idea of helping community youth achieve by allowing programming at the church but they also helped fund the program. Their emotion and financial support helped us through the difficult early years of the program until we were able to sustain ourselves.