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TSJR’s Featured Smooth Jazz Artist

A profile of our selected smooth jazz artist of the month

Because we appreciate the talents and hard work of all of the many artists in our beloved smooth jazz genre, TSJR has made it a standard practice to highlight and honor one artist each month who has established himself or herself as an integral part of the smooth/contemporary jazz “engine.”

This month, we honor:

Damien Escobar—An Example of the Power of Perseverance

Native New Yorker Damien Escobar is a world renowned violinist, author, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. His musical career spans over a decade, and his inspiring journey of making it big, losing it all, fighting to rebuild, and getting a second chance at success is as much a part of his identity as being among the top violinists in the world.

The NAACP Image Award nominee and Billboards chart topping artist was once humbled by homelessness after calling it quits from his famed group, Nuttin but Stringz. The group, comprised of Escobar and his brother, Tourie– known in NYC for playing their violins on the subway; gained global recognition when they appeared as contestants on “America’s Got Talent.” The competition helped to catapult the duo into stardom, and they quickly experienced all the highs of being the most sought-after musicians of their time. However, that glory was short-lived and the fall from grace was a hard hit, to say the very least; as the group disbanded and a bruised and discouraged Escobar made the decision to retire his violin. What came next was a struggle– not only with his identity and depression, but with finding success in other non-creative endeavors.

Looking back at his journey, Escobar realizes it all needed to fall apart so he could be forced to grow while putting it back together the right way. Prevailing was a process, and it started with reviving his love of playing the violin. In 2013, Escobar released his first album as a solo artist, Sensual Melodies. Once thought of as a passion project, the album garnished over 200,000 downloads, landed on the iTunes Top 100 chart, and served as a springboard for a successful national tour where he found himself the headliner.

From there, doors that were once closed, became a little easier to push open; affording Escobar opportunities to tell his inspiring story to publications like People Magazine and Huffington Post, make appearances on local and national news including “The Today Show,” serve as a guest on radio broadcasts, and even accept invitations to perform at notable events such as Oprah Winfrey’s “The Life You Want” tour. Back in the spotlight, Escobar decided this time that he would do more with his visibility and began his entrepreneurial walk by penning and self-publishing his very first children’s book, The Sound of Strings, building his very own line of custom designed violins, and establishing partnerships to develop a wine line, perfume and fragrances, and a non-profit organization that would include a music program for children.

Motivated by his past and grateful for his fans and future, the violinist went on to release his second album, Boundless. Growing into a self-conscious artist with more than a mission to make good music, Escobar sought to inspire change and spread positivity by sharing uplifting messages and telling unfiltered personal stories to sold-out arenas across the world during his second tour.

Though he’s achieved more than he could have imagined after pulling himself up by his bootstraps and kickstarting his solo career– Damien Escobar’s story isn’t over yet. The breakout artist has partnered with Mitsubishi and is now the face and sound of their latest campaign. He’s also releasing new music and videos set to air on major broadcast channels and continues to build his brand centered around making an impact and inspiring social change.

A remarkable artist with an inspiring and powerful story to tell, his is a journey that beckons you to join him along the way as there’s so much more to come. — Ronald Jackson

To view Damien Escobar’s discography, click here.