Artist Highlight – Chalmers Davis
Chalmers Davis, a native of Jackson, Ms. started playing the piano at the age of 5. His studio experience began with the North American Recording Studio Rhythm Section and Malaco Records in Jackson. Since then, his musical travels have taken him through all 50 U.S. states and to France, United Kingdom, Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Germany, Spain, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Austria, Hungary, Czech Republic, Monaco, Italy, Switzerland, Canada, Brazil, Japan, and Mexico.
Until his retirement in September 2013, Chalmers recorded and toured with Little Richard, the architect and originator of rock n roll, for 23 years. He has recorded or played with George Jones, Tammy Wynette, Janie Fricke, Marie Osmond, The Osmond Bros., Mac Davis, Jerry Reed, T.G. Sheppard, Lacy J. Dalton, Charlie McClain, Wayne Massey, Marty Stuart, David Alan Coe, Dobie Gray, Clarence Carter, Bill Anderson, Dickie Betts, Mac McAnnally, Bobby Whitlock, Ronnie Dunn, Charlie Daniels, Johnny Paycheck, Emmylou Harris, Hank Ballard, Bill Haley, Aretha Franklin, Billy Preston, Mark Gray, Exile, Butch Trucks, Greg Allman, Johnny Cash, The Carter Family, June Carter Cash, Chuck Leavell, Shenandoah, Johnny Sandlin, White Buffalo, Jupiter Coyote, Forrester Sisters, The Decoys, Tommy Talton, Scott Boyer, Tommy Tate, Vasti Jackson, Larry Gatlin, The Gatlin Bros., Patrice Moncell, Bobby Rush, Mel Waiters, Eddie Cotton, Floyd Taylor, The Nightingales, Jimmy Henderson, Derrick Martin, John Patrick, Wayne Ammons, Little Milton, Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, Jo-el Sonnier, Denise LaSalle, Karen Wolfe, Chris Gill, Jesse Robinson, Scott Albert Johnson, Grady Champion, Duff Dorrough, Ted Gainey, Cary Hudson, an more. In addition, he has played on The Jay Leno Show, David Letterman Show, American Music Awards, Magic Johnson Show, Arsenio Hall Show, Kennedy Center Honors, Nashville Now Show, The Today Show, Crook and Chase Show, RuPaul Show, Ralph Emory Show, Jerry Lewis Telethon, President Clinton’s Inauguration, Jenny Jones, Johnny Cash Christmas Special, and the HBO Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Dedication. Chalmers is an honoree at the Mississippi Jazz Foundation’s 11th annual “Night of Musical Artistry” being held on December 13, 2014 at the McCoy Auditorium at Jackson State University.
AN MAEC INTERVIEW WITH CHALMERS DAVIS:
When did you discover music was your passion?
I started playing piano by ear at age 5. I was already enamored with music even then. Everyone in my family played piano, but my mother played by ear and ironically I only heard her play at my aunts’ or grandmother’s houses because we didn’t own a piano at that particular time. I begged for my parents to buy a piano and they did when I started taking lessons in the 3rd grade. I continued lessons through my senior year in high school, but really got hooked when I started playing in bands in the summer before the ninth grade and that’s what I still do.
Did anyone ever try to talk you out of becoming a musician?
My family, even though they were supportive, really didn’t want me to pursue music as a vocation. They thought I should play more as a hobby. (Should have listened) HA!
What has been your greatest achievement as a musician?
It’s really hard for me to isolate my greatest achievement as a musician because I have been blessed with several. Certainly getting to play and record with so many artists that have been heroes of mine, playing at the Kennedy Center Honors, getting to work and be friends with so many talented people, playing with Little Richard since 1989, and currently serving the Lord by being a member of the Broadmoor Baptist Worship Arts Ministry rate at the top of my achievement list.
How important are music and other art forms in our schools?
It really saddens me when I hear of music and art funding being compromised or even eliminated in some cases. It has been proven that music education improves students test scores. Musicians’ brains work differently and harder than non-musicians. Music lessons can increase IQ. I, for one, really understood music theory and that dramatically helped me in math and vice-versa. Learning music supports all learning and makes one tap into multiple skill sets simultaneously including ear, hand and body muscle, and eye coordination.
What’s next for you?
As far as what is next in my career, I will continue to record and play with various artists and continue to play at Broadmoor Baptist. I own Windy Ridge Music which houses my studio where I record, teach, and write for my publishing company Chazmosis Music. Windy Ridge Studio has been home base to Ted Gainey’s Hill Country Records where we have worked on several projects for his label that have been released from 2012-2014.
“The Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Center will be a welcome addition to help everyone realize what an impact Mississippi Artists have had on music and art in general and help get the secret out that we as a state can really boast; like our new tags say: ‘The Birthplace of America’s Music’.”