Pharez Whitted

Director of Jazz Orchestra

There are many moments that can define a man’s life and for Pharez Whitted, this is one of them. As he took on the role of CYSO Jazz Director, the Chicago Tribune’s Howard Reich wrote that “few Chicago musician-educators are more qualified than Whitted to build the new band, for he commands a richly deserved reputation as a trumpet virtuoso, seasoned educator and irrepressible champion of the music.”

Whitted is humble with his legacy and his deep roots in music go as far back as the 1930’s in Indianapolis where the Hampton Family Band first began performing. His mother Virtue, his uncle Slide Hampton, and the other 10 siblings laid a foundation with their self-educated and courageous father, Clarke “Deacon” Hampton, at the helm. With that level of determination and talent, Whitted was destined to inherit the gift of music.

At the age of nine he found a trumpet in the closet and asked his brother to show him how to play a C major. With that, he was hooked. He began his career in 1982 after earning his Master’s Degree at Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. He released his self-entitled debut album with Motown in 1994 and continued recording solo albums ever since. His most recent, Pharaoh Smooth, was released in 2021.

One of the greatest gifts that Whitted passes on is his love and appreciation for the music and using it as a tool for peace, inclusion and expression. He instilled this passion in the students that passed through his doors while serving as the Director of Jazz Studies at Chicago State University and now through his work with CYSO, Jazz at Lincoln Center, and Ravinia’s Jazz Scholar program. Pharez continues carrying the torch of the Hampton’s that came before him and all of the jazz legends he graced the stage with, not to mention his recordings and accolades that has prepared him for the next chapter in his career. For Pharez, this is just the beginning and he’s come full circle to marry his experience and knowledge with the foundation of education.

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