Be and stay true to yourself. Create your own destiny, with humbleness. Be as organic as possible. Be an original individual. Everyone has something special to give the next person, to give the world; so find what that is within yourself and give it. Show it. Once you have become free within yourself to express who you are, you will find peace, if it be as a musician or anything you work hard at. You will find that yes, it is worth it to be myself. You will be richly rewarded because you have found your own voice, your own path, your own joy, your own strength. By embracing all of those necessary elements within yourself, you have found the ultimate reward: love. I’d say that is worth it. – D’Vonne Lewis
D’Vonne Lewis, 32, is a self-taught musician/drummer/poet with a background in gospel, funk, and rhythm and blues. Lewis is the grandson of the late-great ‘Godfather of rock and roll/soul’, the Pacific Northwest’s Hall of Famer, Hammond B-3 organ legend, Dave Lewis. Because of Dave Lewis, Seattle’s 1950’s entertainment scene started on the path to desegregation.
D’Vonne graduated from Seattle’s Roosevelt High School in 2002 under the direction of Scott Brown, where he received numerous high school jazz band awards, including the Jazz at Lincoln Center Outstanding Drum Soloist winner at the Essentially Ellington Jazz Festival for the years of 2000, 2001, and 2002.
While still in high school, D’Vonne was first-call drummer to local and world-renowned artists, including Hadley Caliman; Buddy Catlett; Julian Priester; Floyd Standifer; Jay Thomas; Larry Fuller and Marc Seales, to name a few.
D’Vonne Lewis comes from several generations of musical artists. His grandfather, Dave Lewis, played the organ and was an innovator of jazz, blues and rock in the Pacific Northwest. His father Dave Lewis, Sr., also called Big Pop, played the guitar and actually gave Jimi Hendrix guitar lessons. His wife, D’Vonne’s great grandmother Oma Lewis, was a first call piano player in various churches around Seattle. They were all a part of this city’s great musical history and D’Vonne is very proud to continue the family legacy and carrying onto his son Donovon, who is also now part of this legacy.
One night while watching D’Vonne Lewis playing with a trio at the Vito’s lounge, it occurred to me that he just might be the most talented musician in Seattle. Raised by a family with deep roots in Seattle’s black American musical tradition…
This month, actor/playwright Reginald Andre Jackson and director Robin Lynn Smith bring Bolden’s story to the stage with Emboldened, an original work debuting July 22 at Theatre Off Jackson. Neither traditional theatre nor traditional jazz, Emboldened brings the “King” of New Orleans music to life.
In the late ’50s and early ’60s, instrumental rock ’n’ roll bands shook, rattled and rolled their way through West Coast dance halls, with the “Northwest sound” of such bands as The Wailers (“Tall Cool One”) central to this vibrant, pre-Beatles scene.
On drums, D'Vonne Lewis was impeccable and versatile, probably Seattle's most undersung drummer of any genre. - Jonathan Zwickel/City Arts