Classically Trained Violinist Dominique Hammons Proves That Strings Can Be Intense & Soulfully Cool!
Playing Strings Can Be Both Intense & Soulfully Cool, Proves Classically Trained Violinist Dominique Hammons!
Dominique Hammons' love and passion for playing his instrument is one of his most outstanding characteristics. I used to sit and sip a warm herbal mint tea while listening to the melodic resonance of crossing strings as they danced alongside Joseph Henry Douglass' classical tune. As I discovered Mr. Hammons's playing style and saw how he reimagined the old wooden stringed instrument and gave it new life, I developed a new respect for the violin. Have you heard him play? Amazing! I love it!
Other than that, what else can I say? Listening to him play his violin is like being thrust into the core of his heart. He plays his instrument almost as if it were his heart. Watching the pure joy he radiates while playing will even bring a smile to the Grinch's face. It's impossible not to smile while watching him play. Authenticity and talent are hard to come by in today's entertainment business, but he possesses them all. I do not doubt that one day, many will read about Dominique Hammons in their history books as one of history's most excellent musicians. Here's what he shared with me.
Dominique Hammons, how are you doing today? I'm good, how are you?
I'm having a fabulous day. Thank you for asking! Where are you currently residing? I'm originally from Houston, but currently, I'm in Round Rock, TX, on a family trip.
That's awesome! Because family time is so precious, I won't occupy you too long. Let me begin by thanking you for taking part in this interview. Thank you for having me. I appreciate it.
You are so welcome. I am so impressed with your respectability, Dominique. Did your grandparents raise you? Yes, ma'am.
That's awesome! Tell me about some of the good things you've learned from your grandparents as you grew up. Just seeing just how hard work and dedication my grandmother has shown me. It taught me that to be somebody, I must work hard to get it. Unfortunately, my dad has never been in the picture, and my mom was in and out with her issues. So, my grandparents took me in.
What they desired was for me to make something out of myself. For me, it was becoming a violinist. They taught me many things about growing up and becoming a responsible young man. Unfortunately, I lost my grandpa a couple of years ago.
Did they remind you to wash your hands when you walked through the door? Oh yes! Yes, absolutely, and every time.
As a certified germophobe, they taught you well. (Laughs) Yes ma'am.
I bet they told you not to drink from the carton, either. Right? It's true, but I drank out of juice cartons instead of milk cartons. Then they got on me about that. (Laughs)
That's awesome! Could you share one of the most valuable lessons your grandparents taught you that you still follow today? They taught me how to be a person who steps out of the box, not following the crowd. They also taught me that if there's something that you want to do, go for it. You must work hard to pursue your dreams. Nothing's going to be handed to you. You have to work at it. Whether it's me doing chores, doing my homework at a specific time, or making sure I go to bed at 9:00 every day.
So, my strict childhood paid off because I used the principles they taught me when I started playing the violin. You need a strict mindset to discipline yourself to practice every day. Those are just the simple things you need to have. The small things shaped me into the person I am today.
I completely agree. The wisdom of our elderly is a blessing from God. Nowadays, many young people do not value their parents' or grandparents' knowledge and insight. I'm so happy to hear that.
Many school-age children choose to play instruments they consider cool, such as guitar, bass, and drums. On the contrary, the violin is commonly an instrument that children are forced to play by their parents, and many of them give up playing it after a while. What attracted you to violin initially more than the other instruments some of your peers preferred? In my mind, it was different because African American children aren't commonly seen playing string instruments, especially males, so when I was younger, my thinking mirrored my peers'. At first, I didn't want to play the violin, but my grandmother forced me to. As time passed and I realized it was a natural gift, I became better at it.
As a result of doing something out of the norm, I hoped to encourage other kids who looked like me to think outside the box.
Having grown up watching so many people play saxophone, drums, or guitar, I wanted to do something that would set me apart from the obvious choice. Now, when I look back at everything I've learned today, I see that there are so many African American kids on the violin. People even message me saying I inspired them to pursue playing the instrument I play. So, it's encouraging to see that happen, but to answer your question, I wanted to step outside the box and be different.
And unique you are indeed. I would like to know your grandparents' favorite violin piece you played for them. As a kid, my grandmother loved hearing me play "Amazing Grace". Although she loved listening to many church songs, she especially loved to hear me play "Amazing Grace" on the violin. Since I am classically trained, as I improved, she asked the pastor if I could play a couple of songs for the church. Then, she started having me play in churches. My passion for playing the violin grew, and I realized that it was something I wanted to dedicate my life to. Before that, I didn't know that you could play other genres of music on the violin.
Your grandparents are heroes! It must be a blessing for them to be able to steer you into a God-given gift and see you thrive in it. Thank you for sharing that fantastic story. You mentioned that you are classically trained. In addition to your study of music, have you had any additional training? I started at the age of 8, so I started in the 4th grade. Also, I received training in school. Then my grandmother put me into orchestras outside of school for extra experience within different orchestras, and I also took private lessons pretty much my whole entire career.
I've entered a lot of competitions outside of school. Alao, I attended "Kinder High School for the Performing and Visual Arts," in Houston, TX. While attending performing arts high school, I studied orchestra.
When I graduated, I attended the "University of Oklahoma" and received a "Bachelor of Music." After graduation, I returned to Houston and hit the ground running. Since my youth, I have played the violin and received extensive training.
I love it. God has given each of us a unique gift. What would you say differentiates your style of playing from other violinists? Whenever I play, I put a lot of soul into it. The violin isn't just something I play; it's something I connect with. I incorporate many real-life experiences and emotions into my music. When I play, my fans and audience see and feel that.
Whenever I play, I put a lot of soul into it. The violin isn't just something I play; it's something I connect with. I incorporate many real-life experiences and emotions into my music. When I play, my fans and audience see and feel that.
My belief is this. What differentiates me from other violinists is that I incorporate real-life experiences into my violin playing. If I am sad, you can hear my violin cry. I emphasize this point because that is the method I use to communicate with everyone. That is how I view myself as an artist, and that is what I believe makes me unique.
That's beautiful. Thank you for sharing that. Many people know their talent but not many people understand their God-given calling. What would you say is your God-given calling? My gift is to be used as a tool to heal lives and show people light. It is hard for people to believe me when I tell them this, but I get many messages from people contemplating suicide. But, after listening to my music, they share how it brought light to them. It is an incredible experience to hear how my music has changed someone's life and see kids inspired by what I do. Even adults are learning to play violin because of me. Seeing how my life inspires others tells me that God has placed me on this earth to bring light, joy, happiness, and comfort to many people worldwide. Because of this, I feel like what I am doing now is what I was meant to do.
It's so good to hear that you understand your God-given gift, even at such a young age. Many people go through life without discovering their gift yet covet someone else's. A misplaced position in life makes life so much more complex. All your time is spent doing everything but what you're called to do. It is a waste of time. However, when you know what God has called you to do, you are on the right track to achieving your life's purpose and fulfilling God's purse for your existence. That's awesome, Dominique. Marvin Gaye sang "What's Going On," a song highlighting the pain that he felt in his heart regarding what was going on in the world during that time. May I ask what burdens your heart, and is there a song you've written out of that burden? There is a song I wrote called "Breathe." " During an especially dark time, the pandemic, " Breathe " was written to bring light into the world. It's a single from my first album, "Flavors." The song was written during COVID. Many things were happening then, so that song was like an escapism.
Considering everything happening, I named it “Breathe” to remind people to Breathe for at least three minutes, relax, and let all their worries disappear. In response to that song, I received many positive responses. Once again, that song from my first album, "Flavors," is available on all streaming services.
What inspires you to live your best life every day? I am grateful every morning for my gift from God and the ability to use my music to heal lives. I'm also thankful to be able to play the violin as a full-time job. It's rare to be able to do that. I never take it for granted; it's a big opportunity, and only a few people have that. Few people will say they're doing what they love daily. Therefore, life is not something I take for granted.
Yes. That is so true. Yes. I see life differently, and I see how my music affects people. I'm experiencing so much positivity because I know what I'm doing is what I'm supposed to be doing. I cannot show positivity to others if I don't have it in myself. My family, friends, and supporters are also a huge motivation for me. Because of their support, I am driven to keep going.
I believe the world consists of two types of people: creatives and civilians. Despite the oversaturation of the market and the difficulty of having your voice heard in such a crowded social media universe, creatives still pursue it. Sadly, today's creatives are less likely to achieve the same level of success as the previous generation without the financial muscle of major marketing and promotional budgets for music production and airplay campaigns. Despite having the capital, even those with the means still face the fact that music no longer gets airplay for the same amount of time it used to, and an endless stream of new projects is being introduced daily. Based on all this, in your opinion, why is the drive of creatives to "make it" so unrelenting? Music is who they are. Speaking for me, I can't live without music. Everything I do is music. Once you have a passion for something, you can't see your life without it. Whether you're making a lot of money or not, when you have a passion for something, that passion drives you. For example, I've done things for the community for free. The most important thing to me is not how many followers I have or how much money I make; it's about changing lives.
We all have that one thing we are passionate about and can never imagine ourselves without. There is no letting go when you find it. My passion is music, and I won't ever give it up.
Yes, and your passion shows through your music. You've achieved quite a bit. Which of your accomplishments has stood out the most to you? A few of my performances have been with the Houston Symphony, and I have performed "The National Anthem" at NBA and NFL games. I have also performed at jazz festivals and other events of that sort. Right now, I'm striving to reach a higher level of achievement. A Grammy performance is something I hope to accomplish one day. That's the goal.
That is a goal I am confident you will achieve soon. What are some of the notable people you've worked with in this business, and in what capacities? Oh man, so many people. There's this one video. I don't know if you ever heard of "Choppa Style," a hip-hop artist in the States, but I covered one of his songs, which went viral. Afterward, my career skyrocketed. My success mainly came from appearing in his song.
After that, he loved what I did. Once, he invited me to play with him on stage, and it was just great. Tyra Banks reached out to me, giving me her blessings, and I did a cover song with Ashanti. She asked me if I could cover one of her new songs. She loved what I played in her song. Tevin Campbell contacted me, so I did something on one of his songs. His song reached a lot of people on social media.
Now, I'm big on social media. Because of the songs I've covered, many celebrities hit me up. Even "Tabitha" reached out to me. Over time, I've made many different connections.
During Covid, I was supposed to be on the Steve Harvey Show and do a concert with Stevie Wonder, and it didn't happen because of everything going on at the time.
So, there were a lot of things that were almost there, but because of COVID, it didn't happen. But I'm well known throughout the celebrity world, mostly from social media. I haven't performed on stage with many of those artists, but maybe in the future.
I believe everything happens in God's timing and according to his will. There's nothing that happens by chance. Yes, ma'am.
And I'm sure you know that whatever God has for you will happen. You continue to play as beautifully as you do, and God will continue to open those doors and bless you as you keep honoring Him and putting Jesus first in your life. Of course.
Awesome! Can you tell me about your life-changing experience while performing live? There are a few of them, but just one particular performance almost made me cry.
Tell me about it. I did a Choppa Style song that is very popular in New Orleans. As a result, the New Orleans Pelicans wanted me to perform during halftime. This was my first opportunity to perform during a halftime show at a sold-out NBA game. As I recall, there were over 16,000 people in attendance.
Even though I was nervous, I went out there and let loose. I even played the violin on the ground! I went crazy out there. Everyone in their seats stood up after the show, almost as if they were at a concert. The audience gave me a standing ovation. Seeing that was an unforgettable experience since I never imagined it would happen to me. After the show, everyone said it was the best halftime show they'd ever seen, including people who had held season tickets for years. It was one of the best memories I've ever had.
Your performance was outstanding! I saw it on the internet, and I was blown away! I’m so happy for you! Can you tell me about any projects that you have out currently and what you are working on in the future? My first album, "Flavors," was released in 2018, and a month ago, I released my second studio album called "The Sweet Escape," and it's available on all streaming platforms. All the songs on my album are original.
One thing about my music is that it's not a particular genre. So when you listen to it, you get some jazz, soul, R&B, and hip hop. This album is mostly soul/Jazz. The next project I'm working on is "Diary of a Black Violinist."
That will be more of an urban, hip-hop-ish kind of violin album. So that's what's going to be coming out next year. I have many things coming up, like many shows in and out of the country. So, I'm excited about that. People can get more information about me, my music, and my performances by visiting my website, dominiccameras.com.
Perfect! Dominique, what would you say to any up-and-coming or aspiring violinist to inspire and motivate them? If you have any wise words of encouragement to share with them, please do so. Believing in yourself is the most important thing. You must believe in yourself even if nobody else does since you have yourself. Furthermore, you must invest in yourself, your music, and your craft. Think about it as if you're by yourself and know that if you don't have “yourself,” it won't work. So, practice every day and invest in yourself.
Additionally, establish connections in this industry. Sometimes, you have to do some things for free because you never know what doors will open from that opportunity. There's more to life than a quick paycheck, so take chances. Make a bold move and take a risk. There is no telling what will come of it. Overall, it is important to invest in yourself, believe in yourself, take risks, and develop relationships. That's the best advice I can give up-and-coming artists.
That is very well said. It has been a complete honor and a privilege to interview you today. Thank you.
My pleasure. I love your music! I have watched you perform, and it is mesmerizing to see you play so beautifully and skillfully. Your passion for playing shows in all of your performances and recordings, and I pray for nothing but the best for you. Oh, thank you.
Dominique, you are so welcome. My prayer for you is that God will continue to bless the works of your hands, be it done according to His will for your life. I pray that God will open the right doors and close the wrong ones.
I pray that the Lord will send good, kind, loving, honest, and integral people into your life who will support and protect you in this business. And last, I pray that God will protect you and your beautiful family as you travel through your life journey. God will be done. Thank you so kindly for this opportunity, and I want you to know how proud I am of you and all you have accomplished. Keep pressing forward and continue to put God first in your life. Thank you so much.
God bless you. God bless you too.
OK, bye. Bye, bye.
End of Interview
Photo of Dominique Hammons are by: Jonathan S. Young
Buy it! Read It!
Disclaimer: The words of inspiration posted by The Indie Post, written within ( The New American Standard Version Bible Verse) are not the words of the above interviewed.
"John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but so that the world might be saved through Him."
"Romans 10:9-13 9 [f]that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; 10for with the heart a person believes, [g]resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, [h]resulting in salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE [i]PUT TO SHAME.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; 13for “EVERYONE WHO CALLS ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.”