Terence Blanchard

Terence Oliver Blanchard (born March 13, 1962) is an American trumpeter and composer. He started his career in 1982 as a member of the Lionel Hampton Orchestra, then The Jazz Messengers. He has composed more than forty film scores and performed on more than fifty. A frequent collaborator with director Spike Lee, he has been nominated two Academy Awards for composing the scores for Lee's films BlacKkKlansman (2018) and Da 5 Bloods (2020). He has won five Grammy Awards from fourteen nominations.

Terence Blanchard
Blanchard performing in July 2008
Blanchard performing in July 2008
Background information
Birth nameTerence Oliver Blanchard
Born (1962-03-13) March 13, 1962 (age 59)
New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.
Occupation(s)Musician, composer, conductor, arranger, orchestrator
InstrumentsTrumpet, keyboards, synthesizers
Years active1982–present
LabelsBlue Note, Sony Classical, Columbia
Associated actsArt Blakey, Donald Harrison, Branford Marsalis, Bill Lee

From 2000 to 2011, Blanchard served as artistic director of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz. In 2011, he was named artistic director of the Henry Mancini Institute at the University of Miami. In the fall of 2015, he was named a visiting scholar in jazz composition at Berklee College of Music. In 2019, the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), named Blanchard their Endowed Chair in Jazz Studies, where he will remain until 2024.

The Metropolitan Opera announced it will stage Blanchard's opera Fire Shut up In My Bones, with a libretto by Kasi Lemmons, in their 2021-2022 Season.[1] As of 2019, this will be the first production by a black composer staged by the Metropolitan Opera in the organization's 136-year history.[1]

Early lifeEdit

Blanchard was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, the only child of Wilhelmina and Joseph Oliver Blanchard. His father was a manager at an insurance company and a part-time opera singer.[2] Blanchard began playing piano at the age of five, then the trumpet at age eight after hearing Alvin Alcorn. He played trumpet with his childhood friend Wynton Marsalis in summer music camps, along with his friend Branford Marsalis. In high school, he studied at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts under Roger Dickerson, his composition teacher and Ellis Marsalis who wanted Blanchard to become a piano player. From 1980 to 1982, he studied under jazz saxophonist Paul Jeffrey and trumpeter Bill Fielder at Rutgers University.


The Jazz Messengers of 1985, from left: Jean Toussaint, Terence Blanchard, Donald Harrison, and Lonnie Plaxico

While studying jazz, Blanchard began touring with the Lionel Hampton Orchestra. In 1982, Wynton Marsalis recommended Blanchard as his replacement in Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers. Blanchard was the band's music director until 1986. He played alongside Blakey, Donald Harrison, and Mulgrew Miller, recording five albums from 1984 to 1988. He and Donald Harrison left Art Blakey in 1986 to form their quintet 'The Terence Blanchard/Donald Harrison Quintet' and signed with CBS Records. He left the Jazz Messengers in 1990 to pursue a solo career.[3]

In the 1990s, after an embouchure change, Blanchard recorded his self-titled debut for Columbia Records which reached No. 3 on the Billboard Jazz chart. After performing on soundtracks for Spike Lee movies, including Do the Right Thing and Mo' Better Blues, Lee wanted Blanchard to compose the scores for his films beginning with Jungle Fever (1991). Blanchard has written the score for most of Spike Lee's films since, including Malcolm X, Clockers, Summer of Sam, 25th Hour, Inside Man, BlacKkKlansman, and Da 5 Bloods.

In 2006, he composed the score for Spike Lee's four-hour Hurricane Katrina documentary for HBO entitled When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts. Blanchard appeared in front of the camera with his mother to share their journey back to find her home destroyed. He also created an album titled A Tale of God's Will (A Requiem for Katrina), in which he recreated some pieces used in the documentary, as well as creating more pieces along with his band, to provide audiences with the opportunity to sympathize with those who had been affected by Hurricane Katrina.[4]

Blanchard has also composed for other directors, including Gina Prince Bythewood, Ron Shelton, and Kasi Lemmons. Entertainment Weekly proclaimed Blanchard "central to a general resurgence of jazz composition for film." In a 1994 interview for Down Beat, Blanchard said, "Writing for film is fun, but nothing can beat being a jazz musician, playing a club, playing a concert".[5]

He has recorded several award-winning albums for Columbia, Sony Classical and Blue Note Records, including In My Solitude: The Billie Holiday Songbook (1994), Romantic Defiance (1995), The Heart Speaks (1996), Wandering Moon (2000), Let's Get Lost (2001) and Flow (2005), which was produced by pianist Herbie Hancock and received two Grammy Award nominations.

Terence Blanchard's 2001 album Let's Get Lost featured arrangements of classic songs written by Jimmy McHugh and performed by his quintet with vocalists Diana Krall, Jane Monheit, Dianne Reeves, and Cassandra Wilson.

In 2005, Blanchard was part of the ensemble that won a Grammy Award for Best Jazz Instrumental Album for his participation on McCoy Tyner's Illuminations, an award he shared with Tyner, Gary Bartz, Christian McBride and Lewis Nash.

Blanchard was a judge for the 5th annual Independent Music Awards to support independent artists' careers.[6] In 2009 in the Disney movie, The Princess and the Frog, Blanchard played all of the alligator Louis' trumpet parts. He also voiced the role of Earl the bandleader in the riverboat band.[7]

Print biographyEdit

In December 2002, Scarecrow Press published Contemporary Cat: Terence Blanchard with Special Guests, an authorized biography of Blanchard written by Anthony Magro.

Thelonious Monk Institute of JazzEdit

In the fall of 2000, Terence Blanchard was named artistic director of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz at the University of California Los Angeles. Herbie Hancock serves as chairman; Wayne Shorter, Clark Terry and Jimmy Heath sit on the board of trustees. The conservatory offers an intensive, tuition-free, two-year master's program to a limited number of students (only up to eight per every two years).

In his role as artistic director, Blanchard works with the students in the areas of artistic development, arranging, composition, and career counseling. He also participates in master classes and community outreach activities associated with the program. "Out of my desire to give something back to the jazz community, I wanted to get involved. In fact, I've always said that if I wasn't a musician, that I would like to be a teacher. So I was glad to get involved and to be a part of this unique program that fosters such an open and accessible environment."[3]

In April 2007, the Institute announced its "Commitment to New Orleans" initiative which includes the relocation of the program to the campus of Loyola University New Orleans from Los Angeles. Blanchard had passionately lobbied the Institute to relocate saying, "After Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans was shaken and its musical roots were threatened. I grew up in this city and learned about jazz here at Loyola with other young jazz musicians like Wynton and Branford Marsalis and I know that the Institute will have a great impact on jazz and in our communities. We are going to work hard to help jazz and New Orleans flourish once again."[8]

Other workEdit

Composer Terence Blanchard and his wife, Robin Burgess, attend the 91st Academy Awards in Los Angeles on February 24th, 2019 where Blanchard was nominated for Best Original Score for his work on BlackKklansman.

In 2007, the Monterey Jazz Festival named Blanchard Artist-In-Residence, citing him as "one his generation’s most artistically mature and innovative artists and a committed supporter of jazz education."[9] The Monterey Jazz Festival 50th Anniversary Band featuring Blanchard on trumpet will make a 54-date, 10-week tour of the United States from January 8, 2008 to March 16, 2008. Rounding out the band will be saxophonist James Moody, pianist Benny Green, bassist Derrick Hodge and drummer Kendrick Scott. The special ensemble will also feature jazz singer Nnenna Freelon.

In December 2007, the Terence Blanchard Quintet performed the movie music of Spike Lee and Terence Blanchard with an orchestra and singers Dee Dee Bridgewater, Kurt Elling, and Raul Midón at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.[10]

In November 2008 he was a guest on Private Passions, the biographical music discussion programme on BBC Radio 3.[11]

On February 10, 2008, Blanchard won his first Grammy Award as a bandleader for A Tale of God's Will (A Requiem for Katrina) in the category of Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album. His two other Grammy Awards were as a sideman for Art Blakey (1984) and McCoy Tyner (2004).

Blanchard composed original music for Stephen Adly Guirgis's Broadway play The Motherfucker With the Hat, which premiered at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre on April 11, 2011.[12][13][14] The show is described as "a high-octane verbal cage match about love, fidelity and misplaced haberdashery."[15]

On January 20, 2012, the film Red Tails was released nationwide in the United States. Blanchard served as the composer of the original score, marking the first time he has worked with executive producer George Lucas.

He composed incidental music for the 2012 Broadway revival of A Streetcar Named Desire.

He released Magnetic May 28, 2013 on Blue Note Records.

On June 15, 2013, after a workshop with Opera Fusion: New Works, Blanchard premiered his first opera, Champion, at the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. It is about the life of prize fighting boxer Emile Griffith from St. Thomas, with a libretto by Pulitzer Prize-winning Michael Cristofer. It stars Denyce Graves, Aubrey Allicock, Robert Orth, and Arthur Woodley.

Blanchard's album, Breathless, with his new band, The E-Collective, was released by Blue Note Records on May 26, 2015. Featuring Maroon 5's PJ Morton on three cuts, and JRei Oliver, Terence's son, on spoken word, the core band consists of Fabian Almazan on keyboards, Charles Altura on guitar, Donald Ramsey on bass, and Oscar Seaton on drums. Cuepoint, on the web publishing site, Medium, published Blanchard's essay, "Using Music to Underscore Three Words: I Can't Breathe"[16] which details Blanchard's revulsion by the death of Eric Garner and how the subsequent "I Can't Breathe" campaign inspired the series of songs the E-Collective created for the album.

In the summer of 2019, Blanchard will premiere his second opera, Fire Shut Up in My Bones, with Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. The opera, based on the memoir of the same title by Charles Blow, will open the Metropolitan Opera's 2021-2022 season and close the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s 2021-2022 mainstage opera season.[17][18][19] On November 9, 2019 Blanchard performed alongside Lady Gaga as a special guest during her Jazz and Piano show in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Awards and honorsEdit

Academy AwardsEdit

Year Category Project Result Ref.
2018 Best Original Score BlacKkKlansman Nominated [20]
2020 Da 5 Bloods Nominated [21]

British Academy Film AwardsEdit

Year Category Project Result Ref.
2018 Best Original Music BlacKkKlansman Nominated [22]

Golden Globe AwardsEdit

Year Category Project Result Ref.
2002 Best Original Score 25th Hour Nominated [23]

Grammy AwardsEdit

Year Category Title Result Ref.
1990 Best Jazz Instrumental Performance, Group "Again Never" Nominated [24]
1996 Best Latin Jazz Album The Heart Speaks Nominated
2000 Best Jazz Instrumental Solo "I Thought About You" Nominated
2001 "Lost in a Fog" Nominated
2004 Best Jazz Instrumental Album Illuminations Won
2005 Flow Nominated
2006 Best Long Form Music Video Flow: Living in the Stream of Music Nominated
2007 Best Jazz Instrumental Solo "Levees" Nominated
Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album A Tale of God's Will (A Requiem for Katrina) Won
2008 Best Jazz Instrumental Solo "Be-Bop" Won
2009 Best Improvised Jazz Solo "Dancin' 4 Chicken" Won
2013 "Don't Run" Nominated
2015 Best Jazz Instrumental Album Breathless Nominated
2019 Best Instrumental Composition "Blut und Boden (Blood and Soil)" Won

Miscellaneous AwardsEdit

Year Award Category Project Result Ref.
1991 Soul Train Music Awards[25] Best Jazz Album Mo' Better Blues Nominated [26]
1994 The Malcolm X Jazz Suite Nominated
2002 Central Ohio Film Critics Association Best Score 25th Hour Won
2002 Las Vegas Film Critics Society Best Score Won
2002 Satellite Awards Best Original Score Nominated
2003 Sierra Awards Best Score Nominated
2003 World Soundtrack Awards Soundtrack Composer of the Year Nominated
2005 Black Reel Awards Outstanding Original Score She Hate Me Nominated
2007 Inside Man Nominated
2008 Houston Film Critics Society Best Original Score Miracle at St. Anna Won
2009 BMI Awards Classic Contribution Award Himself Won
2013 Black Reel Awards Outstanding Original Score Red Tails Nominated
2013 Soul Train Music Awards Best Traditional Jazz Artist/Group "Pet Step Sitter's Theme Song" Nominated
2015 Black Reel Awards Outstanding Original Score Black or White Nominated
2016 Chi-Raq Nominated
2018 BlacKkKlansman Nominated
2018 Columbus Film Critics Association Best Score Nominated
2018 Georgia Film Critics Association Best Original Score Nominated
2018 Hollywood Critics Association Best Score Nominated
2018 Hollywood Music in Media Awards Best Original Score in a Feature Film Nominated
2018 San Francisco Bay Area Film Critics Circle Best Original Score Won
2018 Satellite Awards Best Original Score Nominated
2018 St. Louis Film Critics Association Best Score Nominated
2019 Hollywood Music in Media Awards Best Original Score in a Feature Film Harriet Nominated
2019 Satellite Awards Best Original Score Nominated
2020 Venice Film Festival Campari Passion for the Cinema Award Won
2020 Austin Film Critics Association Best Score Da 5 Bloods Nominated
2020 Chicago Film Critics Association Best Original Score Nominated
2020 DiscussingFilm Critics Awards Best Original Score Nominated
2020 Greater Western New York Film Critics Association Best Score Nominated
2020 Hawaii Film Critics Society Best Original Score Nominated
2020 International Online Cinema Awards Best Original Score Nominated
2020 Latino Entertainment Journalists Association Film Awards Best Musical Score Nominated
2020 Music City Film Critics' Association Awards Best Score Nominated
2020 Online Film Critics Society Best Original Score Nominated
2020 San Francisco Bay Area Film Critics Circle Best Original Score Nominated
2020 Seattle Film Critics Society Best Original Score Nominated
2020 Society of Composers and Lyricists Awards Outstanding Original Score for a Studio Film Nominated
Spirit of Collaboration Award (Shared with Spike Lee) Won
2020 Denver Film Critics Society Best Original Score One Night in Miami... Nominated
2020 Indiana Film Journalists Association Best Musical Score Nominated
2020 San Francisco Bay Area Film Critics Circle Best Original Score Nominated
2019 Satellite Awards Best Original Score Nominated


A complete discography of Blanchard's jazz recordings as a bandleader.[3]

Year Title Genre Label
1984 New York Second Line (as Harrison/Blanchard) Jazz Concord
1986 Discernment (as Harrison/Blanchard) Jazz Concord
1986 Nascence (as Harrison/Blanchard) Jazz Columbia
1987 Crystal Stair (as Harrison/Blanchard) Jazz Columbia
1988 Black Pearl (as Harrison/Blanchard) Jazz Columbia
1991 Terence Blanchard Jazz Columbia
1992 Simply Stated Jazz Columbia
1993 The Malcolm X Jazz Suite Jazz Columbia
1994 In My Solitude: The Billie Holiday Songbook Jazz Columbia
1995 Romantic Defiance Jazz Columbia
1996 The Heart Speaks Latin jazz Columbia
1999 Jazz in Film Jazz Sony Classical
2000 Wandering Moon Jazz Sony Classical
2001 Let's Get Lost: The Songs of Jimmy McHugh Jazz Sony Classical
2003 Bounce Jazz Blue Note
2005 Flow Jazz Blue Note
2007 A Tale of God's Will (A Requiem for Katrina) Jazz Blue Note
2009 Choices Jazz Concord
2011 Chano y Dizzy! (with Poncho Sanchez) Latin Jazz Concord
2013 Magnetic Jazz Blue Note
2015 Breathless (featuring The E-Collective) Jazz, fusion Blue Note
2018 Live (featuring The E-Collective) Jazz, fusion Blue Note

As sidemanEdit

With Art Blakey

With Joanne Brackeen

With Ralph Moore

With Cedar Walton


A selected filmography of Terence Blanchard scores.[3][27]


  1. ^ a b Cooper, Michael. "The Met Will Stage Its First Opera by a Black Composer". The New York Times. The New York Times. Retrieved 3 October 2019.
  2. ^ "Terence Blanchard Biography (1962-)". Filmreference.com. Retrieved 2012-01-16.
  3. ^ a b c d "Magro, Anthony. "Contemporary Cat: Terence Blanchard with Special Guests", Scarecrow Press (2002)"
  4. ^ Maloney, Ann. "The pain of Katrina will spill forth when trumpeter Terence Blanchard performs with the LPO on Saturday". The Times-Picayune. Retrieved 15 October 2014.
  5. ^ Terence Blanchard, ENotes.com
  6. ^ Independent Music Awards – Past Judges Archived 2011-07-13 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ "The Princess and the Frog: Fun Facts! – Features". Tribute.ca. Retrieved 2012-01-16.
  8. ^ Jazz Police – The Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Moves to New Orleans Archived 2007-11-09 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ Monterey Jazz Festival Presents Terence Blanchard Quintet Live in Concert Archived 2007-11-18 at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ Kennedy Center: The Movie Music of Spike Lee and Terence Blanchard Archived 2007-08-18 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ "BBC Radio 3 - Private Passions". BBC.co.uk. Retrieved 1 June 2018.
  12. ^ "The Motherf**ker with the Hat", ibdb.com, accessed 12 April 2011.
  13. ^ Ben Brantley (11 April 2011), "A Love Not at a Loss for Words", The New York Times, retrieved 2011-04-12
  14. ^ Marilyn Stasio (11 April 2011), The Motherfucker With the Hat, Variety, retrieved 2011-04-12
  15. ^ News Staff (December 9, 2010). "The Motherf**ker With the Hat, Starring Chris Rock, Moves Forward First Preview". Broadway.com. Retrieved 12 April 2011.
  16. ^ Blanchard, Terence. "Using Three Words to Underscore Three Words: I Can't Breathe". Medium.com. Retrieved 23 September 2015.
  17. ^ "Opera Theatre of Saint Louis". opera-stl.org. Retrieved 2019-06-11.
  18. ^ "The Metropolitan Opera Cancels Its 2020–21 Season". www.metopera.org. Retrieved 2020-10-15.
  19. ^ "Highlights planned for the 2021|22 Season | Lyric Opera of Chicago". www.lyricopera.org. Retrieved 2020-10-28.
  20. ^ "Oscar Winners 2019: See the Full List". abcnews.com. Retrieved March 15, 2021. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  21. ^ "2021 Oscars Predictions: All Awards Categories". Variety Magazine. March 15, 2021.
  22. ^ Pond, Steve (10 February 2019). "BAFTA Awards 2019: 'The Favourite' Dominates, But 'Roma' Wins the Big One". The Wrap. Archived from the original on 11 February 2019. Retrieved 10 February 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  23. ^ Hiatt, Brian (19 December 2002). "Here are the Golden Globe nominations". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 10 January 2018.
  24. ^ "Terence Blanchard". Grammy Awards. Retrieved April 23, 2021. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  25. ^ Jet – Google Boeken. Johnson Publishing Company. 14 March 1994. Retrieved 2012-01-16.
  26. ^ "Terence Blanchard". IMDb.com. Retrieved 1 June 2018.
  27. ^ "IMDB: Terence Blanchard".

Further readingEdit

  • Magro, Anthony. Contemporary Cat: Terence Blanchard with Special Guests, Scarecrow Press (2002) – ISBN 0-8108-4323-4
  • Yanow, Scott. Trumpet Kings: The Players Who Shaped the Sound of Jazz Trumpet, Backbeat Books (2002) – ISBN 0-87930-608-4

External linksEdit