LA-based Musician, Alum Tells Students to Find their Passion

On May 19, Norfolk Collegiate alumnus Marcus Miller ’88, a Los Angeles-based jazz percussionist, bandleader and composer, stopped by Norfolk Collegiate to speak to middle and upper school students about his journey and offered inspirational advice.

As a professional drummer, Marcus has recorded and released 16 albums since 2001 for Universe Soul Records. He has toured and performed worldwide with artists including Ben Harper & the Innocent Criminals, Sheila E., Vinx, the Watts Prophets, Ashanti, Bobby Bryant Jazz Poetry Collective and Michelle Shocked. His film credits include creating music for "Love … & other 4 Letter Words" (2006), "My Girlfriend's Back" (2008)," 20th Century Fox’s “Avatar the Last Airbender" (2010), "Beyond the Drum" (2011), "Movement with Meaning" (2012), and "My Critic" (2017).

“The sooner you can go, ‘Oh, I know why I was created,’ the better,” Marcus said. But his story also showed that it pays to be patient and open minded when seeking your true calling. Marcus described how he began his college career as an economics major.

“I thought business finance, being a financial advisor, would be my future,” he said – until he realized it was not his passion. “It made me wake up to whom I was trying to be and who I am,” said Marcus.

As a result, he switched to studying history at Washington & Lee University, which gave him an appreciation for art and led to his passion for creating music.

“Because of music, I ended up finding a path that I didn’t know was there,” he said. “You can’t get frustrated when things don’t go your way; you have to dig deeper and overcome it,” he said. “That’s when you find out who you are.”

Marcus spoke fondly of his days at Norfolk Collegiate, telling the students that the connections they make here – both teachers and friends – will help them out and will last a lifetime.

“It’s a lifelong connection,” said Marcus. “The connections you build here will last a lifetime. Stay connected and help each other out.”

To learn more about Marcus Miller, click here.