Music speaks to our soul…Meet Mr. Robinson

“Where words fail, music speaks.”

There are many reasons why this quote resonates with many. Music drives our lives. Music brings people together in all instances. I don’t think we can live without music.

One of my all time favorite concerts was JayZ and Kanye. They were extremely late that night, but I don’t even think anyone cared because the concert was just great! We waited and waited for them though. The DJ was so good though, so we just danced and “turned up” for the DJ.

The audience was full of so many people. It was packed.

Kanye and Jay came out. They had no background dancers. There was only the two of them and their microphones on the stage. They did have a backdrop with a few multimedia effects, but that’s it. It was the two of them and the energy was on HIGH!

At one point they performed their old individual songs and Jay was pulling songs from his first album…Reasonable Doubt… man.. I remember that… and everyone… I mean everyone was rapping with him! Every song lyric! Every single person (like everyone…). Young and old….just a melting pot of people. People that were my parents age, younger than I was… people that I would have never even thought to be a fan …. they brought people from all walks of life together with their music. They spoke to the souls of everyone… (SN: I have a joke… why do shoemakers go to Heaven? Because they have good soles….😳🤪… pretty great place to stick that! Lol)

At the end of the concert they performed from their Watch the Throne albums. They ended the concert by performing the song Nig**as In Paris. Lighters were up! Hands were up! Adrenaline was running… the energy was wild!

Most describe Donte Robinson as extraordinary... he has the skills to bring people together through music and as I think about that concert and the struggles that the OLD Kanye (note that I’m only referencing the OLD Kanye that we all liked a lot) has endured, it makes me recall my fondest memories of Donte. He has drive that most cannot and will never have. His perseverance has been noticed by all.

His friend, sorority sister, colleague Reshonda says,

“Donte has been the big brother I never had. He greatly values loyalty and family, blood or not, and I greatly respect him for that.”

One of his former band mates/

students Jayla shares a story about him,

He was like a big brother I never had. I remember when I was at the blowout in 2008. I was a shy lonely Maryland girl with a flute. He noticed I didn’t have one and he gave me his. I was so happy because he didn’t do that for the other high schoolers plus he didn’t know me. Since then he’s always been there for me and inspired me to be one of the best flute players in the band. I was always trying to do the same music like him because I wanted to be just as talented if not better 😆.”

According to another former student Julian, “Faithful, determined, man of God, and selfless” comes to mind for him.

One of his former classmates recalls his ability to be personable with people. Charles says, “He knew everyone’s name,” which is pretty impressive. But what was even more impressive to me was he knew something about everyone. I don’t think there is a person that marched under him when he worked in all capacities: including being a drum major and being on staff for the best band in the land… The Blue and Gold Marching Machine, that he did not know.

His energy and optimism for life is contagious just like that concert. While working with him, I had the opportunity to hold numerous conversations with him about life and growth, and he taught me directly and indirectly.

He is a family man, a musician who brings people together with great music, and an overall personable guy.

Let’s take a moment to learn about this great guy Donte R!

How do you describe yourself?

I like to think of myself as an optimistic man who is both introvert and extrovert. I work hard to please both myself and others. I am a mentor, a friend, a brother, father and son. I am goal oriented and push others to not only be that way but be successful at their goals. I understand that although failure happens it should never be an option. I love life and everything about it. I am a product of both abuse and love. I am a product of a choice to be better than my upbringing.

What do you do to promote positivity amongst your race? Do you think it’s necessary? Racism doesn’t exist, right? (I’m being extremely sarcastic here).

I am a firm believer in mentoring, so I speak positivity into the lives of those younger than me daily. I do my best to understand the youth of today by developing a relationship where the can come confide in me without judgement. I find that many of our kids really just need somebody to listen them talk about there situations. I practice support in my friends and those who I mentored while still working at A&T, support is also another factor that many of the younger generation is missing. I believe it necessary, our youth is suffering so much from social media and what the media portrays to the world. I would be doing the world, my students and my friends an injustice if I didn’t feed into their lives the way my mentors fed into mine. Racism does exist…sad to say, I worry often about our young people of color because this world has shown that it does not care for them. That is why work so hard to stay in touch with those I mentored in Greensboro.

What do you do for a living? How did get into this field?

I am a music teacher, I actually thought about going into the field of engineering or computer technology but my love for music was rekindled when I met my mentor and teacher Dr. Kenneth Ruff. From that moment I worked to become the best music professional/educator that I could be.

Are their challenges as a black man in this field?

Unfortunately there are challenges in the field of education, but I do not feel that it is because of my race. Yes, racism does exist and yes it does exist in our schools but I think it comes more from learned behavior at home. As a black man in the field of education I am a hot commodity, meaning they are looking for positive black men to be a representative in the school system.

What are challenges that you have had as a black professional man?

I haven’t had to many major challenges as a black man in my profession. But that one that I often deal with is trying to get my students to understand that they are the future and because our society is slowly but surely failing them that they have to work my diligently in order to be successful.

What or who inspires you?

I am a music teacher, I actually thought about going into the field of engineering or computer technology but my love for music was rekindled when I met my mentor and teacher Dr. Kenneth Ruff. From that moment I worked to become the best music professional/educator that I could be.

Inspiration for me comes in many forms, from my friends/family to my students. I am inspired by their day to day struggle, by their ability to fail and bounce back to try it again. I look at my family like Todgi and Alex who stepped out on a limb and started their own business and have been successful and I apply what they have done in my everyday life. I see individuals like Dr. Ruff who came into a program and worked to change it and think about how I try and fail and want to give up…and think to myself who am I to not put more effort into my life.

Any advice for young men who are facing challenges being black and trying to move up?

What are your thoughts regarding mentoring?

I am a firm believer in mentoring, so I speak positivity into the lives of those younger than me daily. I do my best to understand the youth of today by developing a relationship where the can come confide in me without judgement. I find that many of our kids really just need somebody to listen them talk about there situations. I practice support in my friends and those who I mentored while still working at A&T, support is also another factor that many of the younger generation is missing. I believe it necessary, our youth is suffering so much from social media and what the media portrays to the world. I would be doing the world, my students and my friends an injustice if I didn’t feed into their lives the way my mentors fed into mine.

Racism does exist…sad to say, I worry often about our young people of color because this world has shown that it does not care for them. That is why work so hard to stay in touch with those I mentored in Greensboro.

Any last words for our readers?

Keep your head up and pushing forward. The world will not cater to you, so work hard and live life!

2 thoughts on “Music speaks to our soul…Meet Mr. Robinson

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