In “Former Yankee & Grammy-nominated artist Bernie Williams spreads the joy of music,” Joe Maucer tells us about Jazz Guitarist Bernie Williams ’s shift from sports to music as well as his dedication to promoting the arts in education. Bernabé Williams Figueroa Jr. (William’s full name) was born on September 13, 1968, in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
After having retired, Bernie Williams traded in his baseball bat for a jazz guitar. Now, he has become a Grammy-nominated artist, who is sharing the importance of art in education.
Although they might not be the lights of Yankee Stadium, Williams says that there are a lot of similarities between playing sports and playing music. Williams said, “The amount of pressure, the discipline and the commitment, the body of work and the work ethic that you need to have, all these things that are common in both disciplines.”
In fact, he co-authored the book “Rhythms of the Game: The Link between Musical and Athletic Performance.” However, what motivated him to perform at Horace Mann High School last March – Williams’ second performance at the high school – was the link between arts and education as he said that “I think music is really important to have as part of our education system because it opens ways of learning that you otherwise wouldn’t have been able to have with conventional education.”
After learning about the emphasis of school on music education, Bernie Williams said that he wanted to come back to play with the steel band of the school because they played kind of like the music that he kind of grew up with. He also said, “All this Caribbean, kind of bluesy-jazzy kind of thing.” Students were amazed to see that Williams was just as good on stage as he was at the plate. “I play guitar too, and he definitely, he knows what he’s doing, he’s amazing,” said Junior Donny Howard.
Meanwhile, Horace Mann Head of School Tom Kelly said: “I’m as awestruck now as I was as a kid watching him from the third baseline.” Bernie’s authenticity is said to have helped validate the hard work of the student musicians and also help others at the school find an appreciation for music.