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What is your name? VWJ
What is your favorite food? pizza
What is your favorite color? purple

Adventures with Matt
Matt Nelson is a communications engineer at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. When he turned 44, he decided that he wanted to be an astronaut.

Click here to read his stories.

I was born In Indiana where I was active in Children's Repertoire Theatre, Gospel Workshops of America and other creative outlets involving music or performance arts. As a young adult, I relocated to Los Angeles, where there were better opportunities to further my career within the entertainment industry than what was ever going to be available in Indiana. After recovering from the culture shock, I auditioned and was ultimately accepted at the prestigious Los Angeles Academy of Theatre Arts to study the Stanislavski Method.

Shortly thereafter, I was accepted into the late great Phil Moore's Workshop, which focused on myriad facets of musical training, including developing a performance style, arrangements, performance technique and other disciplines. After completing my training with Phil Moore, I received an invitation from Elton John's former manager to come to England for research and development within the field of recording. Although the R&D didn’t exactly pan out as I had hoped, it was a great opportunity and got me to Europe. I set about networking as much as possible and slowly started to develop a name for myself as a session vocalist.

During this time, through a set of peculiar events, I was contacted by Jazzy B. (Soul II Soul) who was looking for fresh vocalists. I was invited to his recording session. The first track that we did would eventually become the “A Dream's a Dream” single from the critically acclaimed “1990: A New Decade” album. I subsequently did the one-time-only Soul II Soul world tour. As a result of being a featured vocalist with the band, I was offered a solo recording contract with Sony Epic U.S. I always found it ironic that I had to live in Europe to be signed by an American record company. My debut solo album "Perseverance" was released in 1992 and spawned the Top 20 Billboard hit "Through". But I found that my heart was in Europe and after a couple of disappointing singles in the U.S., I returned to England where, for the next six years, I was the front woman for the British techno band “The Shamen”.

A couple of solo deals later, I now divide my time between London and Amsterdam, where I write, produce and market my music independently. Although it is hard work being an independent artist juggling all the various balls, it is infinitely more creatively rewarding.

Recently, I returned to my love of musical theatre. I have done several West End shows (the English equivalent of Broadway). I find the learning curve and maintaining the discipline that is required for delivering a top notch performance night after night, invigorating.

Who would have known - as we studied the life of the great Josephine Baker at school - that I would be following in her footsteps, that I would have a discography and body of work that I am truly proud of, not to mention all of the wonderful places I have been and have yet to go, all of the amazing people I have met and worked with and have yet to meet and collaborate with. I remember Phil and Jeannie Moore saying, "Duchess, anything is possible if you apply yourself and are prepared to put in the work. But you have to be prepared to put in the work!"

You know what? They were absolutely right!!!

What is your name? OC
What is your favorite food? tacos
What is your favorite color? gray

A lot of what I did when I was a kid turned out to be what I do now as a grownup.

As a kid, I tried to do what I was told by my parents and teachers. But the things I liked to do best were the things I got to choose for myself.

I liked to run. I woke up at 5 o’clock and delivered newspapers. After I finished the last delivery, I was about two miles from home, so I ran home. Then I discovered that I had time to run over to the bakery and get a hot jelly donut, eat it, and then run home.

I liked to write. I wrote articles for the school paper. Our old teacher waddled around the room and grumbled, “Accuracy! Accuracy is our watchword.” We had strict deadlines to meet so that the paper would be ready every Friday when school was out. I was happy to see the articles that I thought up being printed in the school paper.

I liked to draw. I saved my paper route money and bought models of ships and planes and cars. I looked at the pieces real close before I built the models and I made drawings of those pieces that looked as close to the real thing as I could, like an engineer would do. In high school I took Mechanical Drawing classes and learned to use special tools like triangles, rulers, ink pens, thick, smooth paper, and electric erasers to make really precise drawings.

And most of all, I liked to play the guitar. I took some lessons when I was eleven, but I didn’t like the way the songs we studied sounded, so I added my own licks to make them sound better. Our teacher, Miss Carolyn, would come around wearing her cat’s eye glasses and thump on my guitar and say, "Just play it the way it’s written." So I decided it would be more fun to teach myself.

I bought the sheet music for Chuck Berry’s song "Johnny B. Goode". But when I played the written notes on my guitar it didn’t sound much like the record. So I decided I could learn the song from Chuck Berry’s record instead. I would play just a few notes from the record and then lift the needle off the record and slide my fingers up and down the strings till I heard the same notes. It took a while -- but IT WORKED!!! I could play the whole song. Now THAT was exciting! I kept working, learning more songs every chance I could. I ran home from school at lunch, skipped eating, went right down to the basement and learned some more stuff on the guitar.

Well, a lot of things happened along the way, but as I grew up I was mostly able to choose to do the things that made me happy. And when I was about 25, I found myself, almost by accident, being hired by songwriters and record producers to listen to their demo recordings and figure out what notes they had played. It was just like when I used to listen to "Johnny B. Goode". Sure, I can do that!

But they wanted me to write the notes that I heard onto paper, like sheet music. I didn’t know how to do that, but I taught myself by looking at other people’s written music. And I found that writing the notes on paper is a lot like drawing pictures of ships and planes! I loved doing that!

The producers called me the night before their recording sessions, in a big hurry. And they couldn’t allow any mistakes because it might make the studio musicians sound bad. So I had a deadline to meet and "Accuracy" was my watchword - just like when I wrote articles for the school newspaper!

As I became more skilled at writing music on paper, sometimes I had jobs to do for four different producers at once. Wow, was I busy. To meet their deadlines, I had to work long hours, often all night long. The endurance I had learned as a runner helped me pace myself for the long haul and keep going when I was tired.

And hearing what I helped create when it is played on the radio is like a big old jelly doughnut!

I often wonder why I was so lucky. I’ve worked with the best musicians in the world. They trusted me to do a good job and not let them down. I think I was welcomed and respected by these talented people because I loved what I was doing.

I hope you find many things that you love to do and that those things are like good friends to you as you go through life.

What is your name? JD
What is your favorite food? all things ethnic
What is your favorite color? Which day?...mostly shades of blue

I was born in Cleveland, Ohio. Ever since I can remember, I wanted to be a musician. At the age of three, I got my first pair of drum sticks. I would sit in front of the TV and beat on the rug in time to any music I could locate on one of three available channels. (Believe it or not, there was no MTV back then). After wearing a hole in the rug, my parents decided it would be cheaper to buy me a set of drums as opposed to having to replace carpeting again.

When The Beatles were on TV for the first time, I became infatuated with the guitar and decided to make the switch. My teen years consisted of playing in rock bands and studying jazz with the late Ted Greene. In college I studied classical guitar and was invited to go to Spain to study with Andres Segovia. I never went. He hated electric guitar and would have kicked me out of his master class had he found out I was really a rock and roller playing in night clubs to work my way through college.

After college, I was lucky enough to meet Tommy Tedesco (studio guitar guru). He took an interest in what I was doing and introduced me to a career as a session guitarist. To this day I still have that same love and passion for the guitar and continue to work in the studios.

I was fortunate to have a passion and love for my career even as a little boy. It is important in life to find what your passion is, and follow your dream.

Chances are, if you can dream it, you can do it!

What is your name? DK
What is your favorite food? all!!
What is your favorite color? don't know

I'm a third-generation Japanese-American, born and raised in East LA. I grew up with my grandparents upstairs and with two brothers. I never thought of where I lived as a ghetto but I decided at a young age that all the gangs and all the fighting was stupid. No one in the neighborhood was truly my enemy. My “enemy” was the society that I lived in, the society that didn't accept minorities or give us opportunities. I decided it was UP TO ME to find a way to do something important for myself and my community. I got into college but was more interested in making a statement. To my surprise it came in the form of something that I was NOT good at. Music.

Now almost 26 years later, I have been blessed to be part of a multi-cultural band, Hiroshima. We raise a voice for diversity and humanity.


Since galvanizing the instrumental music world with its unique East meets West approach in the late 70s, Hiroshima has always kept its eye on a distinctive One World philosophy which seamlessly blends Asian and North American culture to reflect both cultural and spiritual connections. Hiroshima was formed by Dan Kuramoto and June Kuramoto, one of the world’s leading koto players. June was born in Tokyo and raised in inner-city Los Angeles in the 1960s.