Black Music Month began in 1979 when Kenny Gamble, Ed Wright, and Dyana Williams developed the idea to set aside a month dedicated to celebrating the impact of black music. Created by music business insiders, the group successfully lobbied President Jimmy Carter to host a reception on June 7, 1979 to formally recognize the cultural and financial contributions of Black music. Since 1979, Black Music Month has grown from a small commemoration to national proportions with events held annually across the country.
In celebration of Black Music Month, Denver Urban Spectrum visited with up and coming saxophone player Harold Rapp III who has been taken under the wings of national recording artist Gerald Albright who he calls his mentor.
Harold Rapp III was born in New Orleans as a second generation PK (Preacher’s Kid) and was raised in the church. His love for the sax came at age 10 and he started his career as a performer by age 12. His influence comes from his early years living in Germany as a child of a military family. Later, he moved back to the U.S. and spent several years on bases in Louisiana and California before finally settling on Colorado.
Q: What attracted you to the saxophone?
Rapp: My Mother was, and still is, a music teacher. Growing up, she would bring instructional videos for me to watch. As a plus, I’m from New Orleans, so choosing the saxophone as a musical expressional came natural to me.
Q: Can you play any other instruments?
Rapp: I sure can. Growing up as a church musician, one tends to experiment in drums and piano. I started playing drums in church and keys at the house, but nothing compared to the saxophone.
Q: What has been your finest hour as a musician?
Rapp: Spiritually, ministering at church services and seeing souls delivered. I’m able to feel what people go through and playing the saxophone for me allows me to bring relief to today’s troubles. In the secular rely, more of being able to perform in front of mass audiences like the Pepsi Center for the Denver Nuggets games. Performances are still ministry to me, no matter the location.
Q: You’ve encountered many bumps a twist in your career. Can you elaborate?
Rapp: Growing up, there are so many obstacles that only God can help us through. Just to be where I am today, I had to endure homelessness, being told I would be nothing at a young age, because of my race, being told by church folks that I’m going to hell because I play jazz music, bullying, heart break in earlier relationships by raising a child that’s not yours, loosing all my possessions and starting over several times, two car repossessions and losing my first apartment, having your funds stolen from you by greedy people in the industry. God saw fit to see me through these situations to make me stronger. It sounds like a lot of bad things, but there are pleasant miracles at the end of each of these testimonies.
Q: What do you want people to know about your album “Funk It Up?”
Rapp: The “Funk It Up” single was purely a God given song. You’ve probably heard of the saying of having a tune stuck in your head. Well, I had this song in my head for over two years, but I knew that it was meant to reach the masses. “Funk It Up” is meant to breathe life into your day. It’s funky, energetic, and has pure grit. Once I gave it to my friend James Roberson to produce it, I sent it off to Gerald Albright to take a listen and the rest is history.
Q: How long did it take you to record the album?
Rapp: All of my albums usually take a few weeks. For the single it took roughly three days. Gerald Albright took over while I was in Japan.
Q: What are your favorite tracks on “Funk It Up” and why?
Rapp: “Funk It Up” is just the single, the full album will be released the end of this summer. I want to show people that although I have a saxophone it does not put me in a box of jazz. I am using a tool to express myself musically, and I hope to take people along with me on my journey.
Q: Where can Urban Spectrum readers go to see you play?
Rapp: A few places like Soiled Dove and Jazz at Jacks in Denver or Stargazers in Colorado Springs. I’ve been doing mostly private parties for a while, but in the next few weeks expect an explosion of shows. My crew and I have been working feverishly to bring the community an all-new show. This show is meant to engage the audience not just musically, but visually as well. I want my fans to be engaged in the music and feel what an artist feels, in real time. Keep your eyes and ears open because it is going to be epic!
Q: Final Thoughts?
Rapp: Support live music – especially in Colorado. If people would like to follow me, you can on all social media platforms, under the name of Harold Rapp III. My website is haroldrappiii.com. You can download the new single for only $0.99 cents on iTunes, CD Baby, or just about any music-streaming platform. For physical CDs visit my website, and don’t forget to sign up for my email list on the website. I love to give away great gifts.