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February Alumni Spotlight - Grady Reginold “Reggie” Sullivan, ‘06

Grady Reginold “Reggie” Sullivan graduated with a Bachelor of Music in Jazz Studies in 2006. Reggie is a freelance musician and band leader based in South Carolina. We caught up with Reggie to discuss his time at the School of Music and current career. 

Why did you choose the School of Music? 

My former bass instructor, Ian Brachitta, really encouraged me to transfer to USC. He mentioned the opportunity to play in the jazz combos, big band and various local community gigs. 

What ensembles did you perform with while at USC? 

Carolina Alive, Left Bank Big Band and the Palmetto Pans Steel Drum Band.

What person, course or experience was most influential for you while at the School of Music? 

Bert Ligon and Dick Goodwin were extremely influential then and continue to inspire me. Both are world class artists who inspire the highest standards of performance. Dick in particular put me on gigs that demanded, and resulted, in my immediate growth as a musician. 

How has your education at the School of Music helped you in your life and career? 

My education at USC made me a better all-around musician. Initially, I learned to play by ear. At USC I gained an understanding of music theory and a general musical knowledge that proved invaluable for hundreds of situations after college. I  acquired an understanding of musician etiquette/culture that has been extremely helpful during rehearsals with professional orchestras, big bands, studio sessions and small groups outside of USC. 

What is one of your favorite memories, classes, professors or activities while attending the School of Music? 

My favorite memory while attending USC was when Bert Ligon, during a performance, mentioned to supporters of the School of Music that I did not own my own bass. This resulted in supporters of the School of Music and the local jazz community raising the funds for me to acquire the bass I still play today. That one act of generosity has enabled me to support myself professionally for the past two decades. 

What advice would you give current students or recent graduates pursuing a music performance or music education career? 

Don’t quit. 

What is one of your proudest professional or personal accomplishments that occurred after graduating? 

Touring 15 countries with Joe Sample, Randy Crawford, Wycliffe Gordon and the Jazz Crusaders three years after I graduated from USC. 

Are there any major life events, accomplishments or awards you would like to share? 

The birth of my daughter Ellington Grace Sullivan. 

Can you share any upcoming performances you may have scheduled? 

South Carolina Jazz Masterworks Ensemble on February 14, 2023 at 7:30 p.m.  

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