Monday, September 29, 2014

Chase Potter

Chase Potter
There are a lot of things I could say about Chase Potter.  He grew up in the small village of West Jefferson, Ohio.  He was a superb student and graduated with honors.  Yes, I could say that...but there is much more.  I could tell...and yes, I will tell, what a talented musician he is.  In fact that may be what most people who have heard his music remember about him...he is amazing.  But there is much more to Chase Potter. 

I was the guidance counselor when Chase entered sixth grade with his other classmates.  West Jefferson is a small school district, so I knew many of the students already...or knew most of their names.  Chase had already earned a name in being gifted in music.  He played the violin. He told me that when he was three and a half he was watching an orchestra on NPR with his parents and he was fascinated with the violins.  He wanted to play one of those.  He bugged his parents every day.  On his fourth birthday his parents, Tracy and Mark, started him in lessons.

Chase on Veteran's Day 2001

  How fortunate that Chase's parents recognized his talent and were able to support and nurture it.  In Mark's own words about Chase's gift in music: "As a musically gifted child, Chase was REALLY lucky to have been born into a family that played music, of many genres, with a wide variety of musicians, almost daily in the home, for his entire childhood.  Of course, the flip-side of that is that Tracy and I were incredibly lucky to be raising a musical prodigy!"  

But these words from Mark are what I want to write about Chase: "THE most important thing about Chase to ME is this: he is a thoughtful, caring, loyal, open-minded, intelligent and responsible young man who is 'comfortable in his own skin'.  That's plenty for me right there!  He also happens to be immensely gifted, but there has never been the accompanying 'ego' one would expect with someone so gifted at such a young age.  Never!  I actually was on guard for that at all times, but it just never happened.  So, you toss all of that into the hopper and, yep, you have an incredible individual who has become part of many people's lives in a very positive way, and I'll be totally honest.....that gives me great joy! "

Mark and Tracy, Chases Parents

I don't want to just use Mark's words....but he states it well.  I did not see any arrogance or smugness in Chase's attitude throughout his middle and high school years.  I will give a few examples of how Chase is unique, not just in his music, but in not allowing such great talent to separate himself from the rest of us. And then, I hope you check out the links to Chase's music for an uplifting journey...and maybe a bit of awe as you listen and watch all of the instruments he uses.

First, Chase was also a gifted writer in school.  He was part of the Power of the Pen team while in the middle school.  I thought he placed in the state competition, but I was not sure so I checked with him.  He told me he was second at the regional and "bombed" the state.  (I don't know what he means, as none of his writing was bad...maybe just not up to his expectations.)  He also said he got first in the district in 8th grade for his story (in his words), "about a bunch of little kids that got into sugar and the narrator had to tame them somehow."  I remember how much fun it was to read his stories and was thrilled he participated in Power of the Pen.

Undefeated Little League Team!


He was also active in Little League and middle school baseball.  When he reached high school he decided that he needed to focus more on his music and so chose not to take part in organized sports.  The one activity that he loved was skateboarding.  Sometimes I cringed when I saw him...hoping he would not crash and injure his fingers.  I would have hated to have something like that end his violin playing.  But, I should have known that Chase was a regular kid...liked doing regular things with his friends...and how fortunate he was that his parents allowed him to do this instead of sheltering him from any harm that might occur.

Skateboarding!
 

Shane and Chase after High School Graduation
Chase saved my Godson's life.  Well, maybe that is a bit of an exaggeration...but he noticed that Shane was acting strange.  Shane has been a diabetic since he was three and certain times, like during growth spurts, his sugar level would go crazy.  Shane had stayed after school for some help in math.  Chase waited for him and realized that when Shane walked out the door, something was wrong.  Lucky for Shane that Chase managed to get help and, at least to me, saved Shane.

Chase shows a true respect for fellow musicians, no matter what their talent level.   There are so many examples of this, but I will just give a few.  Chase stopped by Shane's house after high school graduation.  It was not long before he and my husband, Ray, were talking about the band Ray had been in for 20 years.  They talked about guitars and songs and drums.  Chase could have been celebrating with his friends, but he took the time to show interest in Ray's band.

Chase is playing violin with the Columbus Jazz Orchestra
at the Great Southern Theatre in Columbus.
Chase won many awards, one being the Hank Marr Jazz Award.  He won this when he was a sophomore in high school.  It was a state wide competition to find the best young jazz artist in Ohio.  What an honor!  His reward was to get to play two performances as a soloist with the Columbus Jazz Orchestra.  That could give anyone a big head...but with Chase, he was more interested in listening to the musicians, asking questions, and learning from them.



Chase gave a concert before going to college.  He had won the Presidential Scholarship for Berklee College of Music in Boston.  This is a full paid scholarship for classes and housing on campus.  Only seven such scholarships are given each year, and two of those are for international students.  I drove from Toledo to attend the concert.  It was packed.  This young man had touched so many lives and we were all eager to hear his last concert before his next journey into college.  I found out later, that this was a benefit concert for the Free Clinic in Madison County.


 I am not sure what I expected,  but this concert was not just about Chase.  I should have realized that...it was called "Chase Potter and Friends." He had invited musicians from all parts of his life to join him.  Yes, Chase did play the violin, the sax, drums and more...but he also introduced each of the other musicians and each had center stage.  Chase did not just say their names...he told about each one and how each had impacted his path in music.

He would then stand aside, with a look of pure joy as the person would sing, or play an instrument.  This concert was not just about Chase's concert. Instead of acting as the 'star', he recognized the talent of everyone.  It brought tears to my eyes...this unassuming, talented young man...so secure that he shared the spotlight with the rest.

Chase and Friends Concert




This, at 18 years old...shows so much insight and strength. He and his friends did a second concert the next year.  In the two years, they raised over $7,000 for the Free Clinic.








Here is a slide show of more pictures of Chase and Friends Concert:

video
 
Yes, I can write more, but I know
this has gotten quite lengthy for a blog post.  Here are some links that will tell you more about the many awards Chase has gotten and also links to his music.  I asked Chase what his plans are when he graduates this year from Berklee.  He said he was not sure but that he hoped to head for Nashville.  I think we will be hearing more from this great guy.  Check out his website to learn more about Chase. Chase Potter Website

NOW!  SIT BACK AND ENJOY SOME GREAT MUSIC!

 
 
 
 
This is one of the most touching videos I have made.  This was at the Chase and Friends Concert.  Tracy is singing, Mark is playing piano, and Chase is playing guitar.
"You Are So Beautiful!"
If you are using an iPad or iPhone click here to get the You Tube: Tracy, Chase and Mark
 
video
 

OH...and one more thing....here are a few more pictures of Chase.
 

Chase with Grace and Keenan: Grace Adele and the Grand Band
Keenan Wade is also from West Jefferson






Chase and Mark Potter Playing at a Cuyamungue Fund Raiser

I like this because it has a kitty in it.

A Picture with Kris Kristofferson

Here is one with Willie Nelson


 

9 comments:

  1. What an amazing person! I know good things will come his way. Thanks for sharing his talent with us.
    Glad to see you were able to link up today. Wonder what's causing the glitch?

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  2. Wow! Amazing! What else can I say? This is a really cool layout for your story, too! Thank you for sharing.

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  3. A fine musician and a wonderful young man. Thanks for introducing us to Chase!

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  4. What a truly gifted amazing human being. So wonderful that you were a part of his life and he a part of your. Of course, anyone who likes cats has to be a good person. Glad you were able to post today.

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  5. Whata lovely tribute to your godson! Hope to hear more of him and from him.

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  6. What a wonderful blog post about a wonderful and very talented young man. Thank you for sharing all of him here, Jackie.

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  7. What an amazing tribute to a wonderful young man.

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  8. Thanks for sharing his story - sounds like a truly amazing and genuine young man. I listened to Happy and the Cardboard Box song - awesome!

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  9. Wow. What a wonderful young person Chase is. I wish him the best in life.

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