Cameron Tillman

by Crystal Kelly | January 23rd, 2020
Cameron Tillman (Crystal Kelly)

Cameron Tillman (Crystal Kelly)

Cameron J. Tillman (Cam) is a young and talented jazz and gospel musician. He has recently relocated to Atlanta, GA. He was born on May 15, 2005, in Hartford, CT. He is the only child to his single mother, Crystal Kelly.

As a young child Cam has enjoyed music. At church he would sing and play on the drums. At the age of four he received a trombone as a birthday gift. He was encouraged to learn to play the trombone because it is one of the instruments featured on the brass shout bands at his church, The United House of Prayer for All People. Cameron reluctantly did not want to play the trombone because he felt that it was too hard to pick up and learn and he could not get the hang of it. He decided to learn to play the snare drum instead because he picked it up faster than the trombone.

By the age of six, Cameron asked his mom if he could take lessons to play the saxophone. She declined because he already had a trombone that he never used and he refused to learn how to play it. Plus, she did not want to spend the extra money on another instrument if he was not going to actually learn how to play it. She decided to make him a deal; she said, “if you learn how to play your trombone first, then you can switch to another instrument.” Cameron decided to dedicate himself to learning how to play his trombone. He became determined to play it just enough to satisfy his mother so that he could switch to the saxophone.

As he began getting better playing his horn, he decided to join his elementary school band at John F. Kennedy Elementary in Windsor, CT, in addition he continued to play with the brass band at church. Cameron began to learn how to read music as well. He got really good at playing his trombone. He got so comfortable playing his trombone that he did not want to put it down. When he got to middle school he joined the school orchestra band and decided to audition for the jazz band as well.

Cameron became one of only four 6th graders on the school’s jazz band. This was his first time being exposed to the world of jazz. He instantly fell in love with the genre of music. He started to listen to all kinds of jazz music and learning about the musicians. Cameron became really close with his band director who took him under his wing and really introduced him to all kinds of jazz musicians and music. He became known as a Jazz Cat! He had adult mentors that would talk about music and jazz with him each week. Cameron became a consistent featured soloist to perform during several concerts and performances.

Cameron eventually learned about a music program at Charter Oak Cultural Center in Hartford, CT. They have a brass band called the Funky Dawgz Community Brass Jazz Band. He again decided to join this band in addition to the bands at school and the band at church. Cam’s mother advised him that he was already a member of three bands and taking on another was going to be a lot. He promised not to let his grades fall and that he would be responsible for keeping up with all the work he needed to put in, and he did just that.

Cameron has such a love for playing his trombone. He has quickly advanced in the bands he plays in at church and even played in the orchestra band at church in Washington D.C at a Memorial Day event hosting thousands of people. He has won three full scholarships three years in a row to an elite jazz camp, Litchfield Jazz Camp in CT. He was recognized as June’s student of the month in 2017, at www.spreadmusicnow.org. At school, he has been awarded student honors in band for playing his trombone and for his character. At Charter Oak, they gifted him with new Yamaha trombone. It was stated that he was gifted the horn due to character. He is such a respectable young man and he always volunteers to help others with learning how to play their instrument. Since moving to Atlanta in June of 2019, Cam has performed with the Rialto Youth Jazz Orchestra at Georgia State University. He made 1st Chair at his school, North Cobb High School’s concert band and is a member of their marching band as well; all while continuing to play on the brass band and marching band at his church.

Cameron has not thought about playing the saxophone since he has learned how to play his trombone. He also plays other instruments, but his trombone is where his heart is. He plays with such passion and enjoyment. He loves the trombone and is hardly ever seen without it.

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