-By Chanel Murphy
Above: Harvey Cummings
Often described as being a musical genius, Harvey Cummings became interested in music at the age of three. “We had a piano in the house and I would always bang on it. My parents never seemed to mind but I actually got in tune and started to play for real,” explains Harvey.
“I’ve been playing ever since.”
The talented musician attended performing arts schools in his hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina from elementary to high school. He also had many recitals and was able to perform his first written song in the fourth grade concert. “My parents didn’t know what was going on. They were shocked,” says Harvey.
-Nxlevel Charlotte: What other instruments do you play besides the piano?
-Harvey: I play the saxophone. That’s my other main instrument. I can play band instruments also. I sucked at the French horn though.
-Nxlevel Charlotte: Who are your musical influences?
-Harvey: My musical influences are John Coltrane, Duke Ellington, Herbie Hancock, Nas, Jay-Z, and the Roots. Also, Thlonious Monk. He’s a pianist from Rocky Mount. I like Monk because he plays outside the box.
-Nxlevel Charlotte: What inspires your music?
-Harvey: Whatever I’m feeling at the time- good or bad.
-Nxlevel Charlotte: What genre does your music fall under?
-Harvey: Hip-hop jazz.
-Nxlevel Charlotte: The rumor out there is that you may be performing with Hootie and the Blowfish.
-Harvey: That’s true. I’m opening up in September for Hootie. It’s a blessing! It opens up another audience for our music.
-Nxlevel Charlotte: Congrats. What other bands have you worked with?
-Harvey: The band I’m apart of is Beatnam and the Vets. We formed this band back in college. But I’ve worked with other bands including Peace and Love, The Company Band, and Betty Pride and the BP Ride Blues Band. I was also one of the featured pianists on the Boondocks- the second season. I got a call from 9th Wonder asking to play the background music for the show. It opened a lot of doors.
-Nxlevel Charlotte: Where is one of your favorite places to perform?
-Harvey: My favorite place to perform is a restaurant in the South Park area in Charlotte called Café Monte. It’s a nice French-inspired restaurant. The food is bangin'. The people love the music. I also play every Friday at Sadie’s Soul Food. Their food is great. They won the Steve Harvey Hoodie Award.
-Nxlevel Charlotte: So when did you become involved with Nxlevel Charlotte?
-Harvey: Well, I’ve always been a fan of Nxlevel. I used to go to the parties in Greensboro, North Carolina. My first party was the Black Party in 2008 for my 25th birthday. I got involved in Nxlevel Charlotte when I received a phone call about bands performing for the New Year’s party.
-Nxlevel Charlotte: How do you feel about the presence of jazz in Charlotte?
-Harvey: I’m interested in bringing jazz to Charlotte, especially to our audience- young black professionals. There’s not really a niche for pure jazz in Charlotte. I’m not really fond of the music people are hearing.
-Nxlevel Charlotte: Do you have any advice for other upcoming artists?
-Harvey: My advice is to stay true to yourself. Don’t play what other people want you to. In music, we’re losing individuality. Be creative. Be an individual. Make your music remembered. Standout. I feel like my gimmick is real music.
-Nxlevel Charlotte: Is there anyone you would like to acknowledge that helped you in this musical journey?
-Harvey: I’d like to thank God. My family. My father- rest-in-peace. My friends. My girlfriend who is my biggest supporter and my manager. She keeps me grounded. I would also like to thank Nxlevel Charlotte for putting this interview together. I’d like to thank the people.
Be sure to follow Harvey Cummings on Twitter @brothawitsoul.
*Above: Harvey Cummings playing at a nearby music store.