METAIRIE, LA (WGNO) – A Metairie teenager with a passion for music is getting the opportunity of a lifetime. He’ll spend the summer in Boston studying music with the best. Vanessa Bolano says oddly enough he owes it all to Hurricane Katrina.
16-year-old John Michael Bradford and his trumpet are best friends. The sounds they make are recognized throughout his neighborhood, but for the next five weeks his backyard will be silent as John Michael heads to Boston to study music.
“I got the scholarship to go when I was 13, but I was too young to go and now that I’m old enough to go, being 16-years-old, I’m actually going with some of my friends, so it’s going to be a great experience,” says Bradford.
John Michael was handpicked to attend Berklee City Music. The intense program is affiliated with Berklee College of Music, and many summer alums are awarded full scholarships to attend the university.
“A lot of great people I look up to went to Berklee, so I hope to follow in their legacy,” says Bradford.
John Michael’s path to music came while many, including his family, were struggling to stay afloat. As Hurricane Katrina battered the Gulf Coast, the Bradford’s evacuated and found shelter with musician Sam Williams of Big Sam’s Funky Nation.
“Just hearing him play and his cd’s I really liked it and I would start singing all the licks and the horn lines back,” remembers John Michael Bradford, “He thought something was special about me, like I like music a lot, and then I realized I really wanted to be a musician and I wanted to be just like Sam and play the trombone.”
At the time his parents couldn’t afford a trombone, but eventually he inherited his grandfather’s trumpet. Fast forward close to eight years and now he’s linking up with saxophonist Donald Harrison.
Berklee alum and mentor to John Michael, Donald Harrison describes the teen as a new star on the horizon. “When I first met him he was a little guy about 12-years-old, and I knew the talent. It was innate inside of him.”
“I actually thought he was going to maybe be a dancer because when they used to do the ultrasounds it looked like he was dancing in there,” says John Michael’s mother Angie Bradford says, “Anyway Katrina changed all of that.”
John Michael Bradford leaves to Boston on Friday.