Jazz musician Fuasi Abdul-Khaliq ’72 performs at Alumni Reunion Weekend
Tuesday, May 1, 2012
Four decades can make a world of difference.
Accomplished jazz musician and Whitman alumnus Fuasi Abdul-Khaliq ’72 found out how much things change upon returning to campus for the first time in 40 years, discovering that Whitman and the music department look dramatically different since his time as a student.
“I look around and see that the campus and music program are much more diverse,” Abdul-Khaliq said. “The music program has, of course, the classical elements, but it has the jazz elements, the vocal thing is really happening, and they’re trying to move into a different direction. World music – I think that’s coming up next.”
After graduating from Whitman Abdul-Khaliq, a self-taught saxophonist, began playing professionally in Los Angeles. There, he studied with the African-American pianist Horace Tapscott. In 1992, he moved to Berlin and has spent the past 20 years establishing himself as a hallmark of the city’s music scene.
This year’s Spring Alumni Reunion, which celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Class of 1972, drew Abdul-Khaliq back to the Pacific Northwest.
“I always wanted to come back and see Whitman and Walla Walla again,” Abdul-Khaliq said.
As a Whitman student, Abdul-Khaliq was instrumental in establishing a jazz scene on campus. During Reunion Weekend Abdul-Khaliq continued fostering Whitman’s jazz program by hosting a workshop and performing with students at the alumni dinner. These experiences allowed him to become reacquainted with the department.
“Stepping back here, I was like, ‘Wow! I went to this school?’” Abdul-Khaliq said.
Returning to campus and reflecting upon his experiences as a student led to a greater appreciation of Whitman.
“I’ve never appreciated Whitman more than I do now. When I went to school here, when I was in the moment, I wasn’t really looking around. It was like being inside the forest and not seeing the trees,” Abdul-Khaliq said.
Elizabeth Cole ’15