Some composers stick to the world of film music, while others prefer writing things like opera. And then there are some who have managed to do both. Hi there – my name is Garrett McQueen, and on this edition of Noteworthy, I’d like to re-introduce you to a composer named Terence Blanchard.

I say reintroduce because you may have already engaged his music without even knowing it. He started his career as a jazz musician, playing with groups including Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, before putting out his own album in the 1990s. After playing trumpet on the soundtrack of a few Spike Lee joints, Spike Lee himself asked Terence to compose the scores for some of his upcoming films. He wrote this music for Spike Lee’s ‘Malcolm X’.

Terence Blanchard didn’t stop there, though. In 2013, he premiered his very first opera, one called “Champion”, that highlighted the life of prize fighting boxer Emil Griffith. Following the success of Champion, Terence Blanchard shook the world with his second opera called Fire Shut Up in My Bones, which has been critically acclaimed since its premiere in 2019.

When the Metropolitan Opera of New York staged “Fire” to open its 2021-2022 season, Terence Blanchard made history as the first Black to have a work performed there. That, alongside his many other accomplishments, makes Terrence Blanchard among the most noteworthy of composers.

Pictured: Terence Blanchard by Cedric Angeles.