2017 Producer of the Year – Gary Spencer
As all of us go through the years of our life, so many things happen. But, usually we can pin-point an event that truly affects our heart and mind, inspiring us to choose a future path. Gary Spencer can credit his career, to the influence of his dear parents, and the musical occasion that influenced his life.
Born in Reading, PA, his parents always listened to music. His father was a Reading police officer, and his mother a dedicated housewife. They always had jazz playing in the background. Gary’s father listened to some of the great jazz artists, such as Dexter Gordon, Hand Crawford, and Jimmy Smith. His mother enjoyed Ella Fitzgerald, Joe Williams and Billy Eckstine. But, even though this wonderful music was always a part of his household, Gary never heard the music played, live.
Then one day, in first grade, he heard it for the first time, and even though he was very young, the music captured his heart. A local music foundation had begun a program called “Music in the Schools.” When the program sent musicians to his school, it was the first time Gary saw and heard jazz music performed on the instruments, he had heard on the radio, and on records.
For the first time, he was in the room with the music, and as he heard it, and felt it, it filled him with awe and happiness. Gary admits that that was the moment that he knew he wanted to be a part of it, for the rest of his life. Years later, he graduated Reading High School, and attended Cheyney State College, in Pennsylvania. But, music was always his inner passion. Then, that life-influencing event happened. In 1995, he met Bill Royston, a well-known music programmer, who gave Gary the opportunity to be closely involved with music production. The very next year, he came to Rehoboth Beach, and met the members of the Delaware Celebration of Jazz, and has been assisting the production of this event, ever since.
Today, Gary says this about his chosen profession:
“When you are involved with this work, it’s not about who you are . . . it’s about the team. Some people work in jobs or disciplines and never receive a reflection of their work. All of us, who work behind the scenes, get to view the reflection of our work at every show, through the wonderful energy produced by the response of the audience. The production team works hard, not only because we enjoy it, but because we share a love and sense of camaraderie and accomplishment, that withstands time. And, at the end of a show, we all look at each other and understand the satisfaction of a ‘job well done.’”
“I enjoy giving back to the community the things that they gave me, through music. Things that shaped my life. I count my blessings, and hope to stay healthy and happy, as I keep bringing live music to the people.”
Well, Gary, maybe there’s a young person, out there, who will hear the music for the first time, like you did so long ago, and keep that time with them, forever. Congratulations on being this years, Producer of the Year. May you always be part of the show!