This husband and wife team have a devotion for the arts that definitely shines through. They not only share a deep love for one another, but their passion is evident musically and poetically. This marriage of hearts and artistry is truly a gift. Jimmie Tjari Highsmith, Jr., was born September 18,1967 in the “Flower City” Rochester NY, the birthplace of Jazz luminaries Cab Calloway, PeeWee Ellis, Chuck Mangione and many others. James, or as his friends call him “Jimmie” is a seasoned Jazz musician who began his musical incipiency at the mere age of 7. Jimmie began studying piano, which created the foundations for his song writing in his later years. A music teacher introduced him to the harmonious sound of the saxophone, and the rest shall we say is history. Recognizing Jimmies potential, he was guided to study music at the Hochstein School of Music where he honed his ability to musically shine and stand out from his peers. Jimmie brought that same focus and thirst for music to the High School for Performing Arts where he walked the halls with and befriended other standouts like Motion Picture Actor/TV Star Scott “Taye” Diggs, R&B Singer Charlene “Tweet” Keys and Opera Diva Regina Zona. At School of the Arts, Jimmie was exposed to a musically competitive environment of band competitions, jazz combo performances, composition classes and other competitive solo scenarios. In Jimmies senior year, he auditioned for and was accepted into the prestigious Eastman School of Music, where he played Baritone sax in the Eastman School of Music Jazz Ensemble.
After graduating from High School, Jimmie enlisted in the US Air Force. While stationed in New Jersey, Jimmie found himself in the ideal location to access the New York and Philadelphia jazz scenes. During this time, he formed a jazz band consisting of musicians from both the US Air Force and Army. The band played at many military events and performed in various countries as part of the entertainment for the International USO Tour and Tops in Blue. In 1992 Jimmie returned to Rochester where he launched his professional music career. Jimmie has formed many bands, which have been recognized as top regional jazz bands playing in big music festivals and clubs. He has shared the stage with multiple Grammy Award winners, including Alicia Keys and Wynton Marsalis. His sax work represents some of the best in the Smooth Jazz and Contemporary Jazz Genre. Jimmie has also performed with many notables such as: Joseph Wooten, Chris Beard, Paul Boutte, Joe Beard, Carl Thomas, Grey Mayfield, Wycliffe Gordon, Eric Reed, Johnny O’Neal and Yolanda Adams. He and his band have also opened for many big named artist, such as: Natalie Cole, Little Richard, Najee, "Papa John" DeFrancesco, Robert Cray Blues Band, Joyce Cooling, Montell Jordan, Shameika Copeland, Neville Brothers, Me'chelle Ndegeocello, Jodie Watley, Chris Bodie, Temptations and The Isley Brothers. To visit Jimmie Highsmith's website CLICK HERE!
Lutonya Rachel Highsmith, a Rochester, New York, was born on August 20, 1969. Lu, as she is affectionately known, has published essays, news articles and poems over the past twenty years. No matter which form she has chosen to exhibit her talents, each has been reflective of her passion for spirituality, sensuality, and social consciousness.
She has performed at festivals, coffee houses, nursing homes, schools, churches, art galleries, clubs and community events throughout Rochester, Syracuse, Buffalo, Atlanta and Toronto.
Highsmith has been featured in the Rochester-based newspaper, Minority Reporter; the Buffalo-based newspaper, Challenger and as a “Woman to Watch” in The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.
In September 2008, Lu published her much-anticipated debut book of poetry “Vicissitudes” through her company, Lucreations Publishing. Her second book of poetry “Ascension into Love” was released in August, 2010. She is also an active member of the artist-advocacy group CSWA (Culture Starts With Art!) and currently co-hosts a bi-weekly poetry night called “Flowetic Rhythms” at Gallery One Fine Arts in Rochester, NY.
In October, 2012, she joined forces with her Grammy-nominated musician/composer husband, Jimmie Highsmith Jr. on her first CD entitled, “Ascension”, produced by Variance Records.
Lu has recently embarked on becoming the designated Slam Master in Rochester, NY by forming Rochester’s first Adult Slam Team called "Roc Bottom Poets", traveling to Buffalo, Syracuse and Albany; as well as hosting Poetry Slams in Rochester.
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