Interview by: Judy Raderchak
First off tell the readers about yourself. (Your name, what you do where you came from etc.)
My name is Reginald Gage (Reg). I am the middle one of 6 born to Lewis and Elizabeth Gage. I was born and lived in Detroit, MI until I was 14, and then my family moved to Santa Clara, CA. I attended private academy’s all of pre-college life, Catholic Central High, in Detroit, St. Francis High, in Mountain View, CA, but convinced my father to allow me to go to the local high school my last two years of HS because I wanted to finally attend school with neighborhood friends. I was fortunate enough to be able to attend and receive my high school diploma from Emil R. Buchser High School in Santa Clara. It was a grand experience for me; being elected president of the senior class, being involved in student government, being a three sport athlete, as well as being able to go to a high school that had girls that went there also. Interestingly, my first year at Buchser, I had the distinction of being the only African American male in the school with an enrollment of better than 1800. From there, it was on to Santa Clara University, where I received my BA Degrees, Post Grad work at San Jose State University, Hayward State University, UCLA, UC San Diego and Cal Poly Pamona. Received my California Teaching Credential in 1972.
When and what inspired you to be a musician and an artist?
Reg Gage: My mother taught each of her basic pianos, so I began learning the rudiments at the age of 7. My dad would have an occasional discovery session that involved gathering his children in front of the radio, record player, book or TV and forcing us to listen to, or see what he considered to be important to experience. There, we were introduced to opera, classical music, jazz, Broadway shows, great art and artists, great literature and great men and women of accomplishment. His lessons introduced me Jerry Mulligan, Bobby Sherwood, Jackie Gleason, who was not just a comedian but also a tremendous arranger and conductor. As a youngster, I was introduced to Mozart, Bach, Tchaikovsky, Enrico Fermi, Edward Teller, and Robert Oppenheimer. My father and mother were great parents. My interest in art began with the baby sitter. He was an old Austrian gentleman named John Krauss. He showed me how to get past stick figures when I was 8.
Where did you learn your talents and how many years have you had to study?
Reg Gage: I never considered it talent, but by the time I was a freshman in High School, I was doing portraits using a set of pastel chalks that I received in my Christmas stocking. As time passed, I became more proficient to the point where I was doing renderings for kids in school as well as adults in the neighborhood. I started playing instrumental music in 7th grade. I wanted to play baritone sax like the great Jerry Mulligan, but there was only one baritone sax in the school band and that was already spoken for by an eighth grader. I was eventually convinced to try the baritone horn. I picked up the sax my first year in college. It was an alto sax, but I really didn’t get into it until my late twenties when I decided to try the soprano sax, influenced by a soprano sax man by the name of Wayne Shorter.
Have you faced any challenges in your profession (as an artist and musician), if so what were they?
Reg Gage: My primary challenges in both fields were to believe in myself, particularly during a failed marriage, the deaths of my father and oldest brother, and the need to support myself during these troubling times.
What is your Favorite piece of art you have done and why?
Reg Gage: My favorite piece that I have done is a 36X40 Reverse Negative of John Coltrane playing his tenor sax. I painted it to compliment my black baby grand piano. It does that very well.
What is your favorite song to sing and why?
Reg Gage: I am not a singer, though I sang second tenor with Royal Stanton’s Skyline Chorale while in college. I am a saxophones and flutes player who has written many songs, some with lyrics. I wrote a song that I titled "Black Rock." It is dedicated to how my wife and I met and got together. It is a rather catchy tune, and I am forced to sing
it on occasion, because she is often in the audience when I perform. It has always been very well received by the audiences.
What are some of the musical and art events have you preformed?
Reg Gage: I have performed all over California, Nevada, Arizona and British Columbia, Canada. I have performed in places like the Fairmont Hotel, Yoshi’s, The Toll House Hotel in Los Gatos, CA, The San Jose Jazz Festival, The Stern Grove Jazz Festival in San Francisco, John Lee Hooker’s in San Francisco, JJ’s Blues Cafe in San Jose, The Delta King, Old Town Sacramento, Pearle’s, San Francisco, Chuck’s Cellar, Mountain View, CA, The City Cafe, in Yuba City, CA, CW31’s Good Day Sacramento, Jazz on the Island, Rancho Murrieta, CA, Club Jazz, San Jose, CA.
You had mention to me you are a retired math teacher, what is your most memorable time as a teacher?
Reg Gage: The year was 1993. That year, I was a mentor teacher, also a member of the State of California Math Renaissance Board, taught 5 math sections and 1 drama class, coached 3 sports (My basketball team won the league championship), Wrote, produced and directed the school play (Margie Melendez Meets The Super Chief), Wrote the script for, produced and performed at the student and teacher’s talent show. It was a great year.
How do you feel about the education system?
Reg Gage: In California, it is definitely broken. Teachers are grossly underpaid in relationship to the education required to qualify for a credential. Better pay gets better teachers. The money does not truly reach the classroom. The districts need to report directly to the State and eliminate the dysfunctional county offices of schools that drain huge amounts of capital from the state budget and accomplish what the districts can manage on their own. Also, parents should be required to attend a minimum of 2 training seminars per level (intermediate, middle and high school) where they can be given strategies as to how they can positively enhance their students educational experience.
Do you think the depictions in children’s History text books accurate?
Reg Gage: For the most part, yes! The information is pretty much correct, but the presentation is rather poor. History textbooks should be designed to encourage the reader to seek more information than can be adequately covered in the space limitations of a single textbook.
Do you think racial profiling is affecting our society today and how do you feel about it? (You had explained how the teachers assumed you were from the ghetto because of your skin color; I think it’s important to discuss the challenges regarding racial profiling.)
Reg Gage: Profiling is not simply a racial thing. There are some very intelligent kids in this country that are assumed to be ignorant because they wear their pants way below the beltline. Yes, racism in this country is alive and well, it just changes it form. It is not politically correct to openly profess your disdain for another race or culture; so many people often find other ways to distance themselves from those that they feel are below them. For example, many do not realize that our economy is affected by the fact that many were willing to pay overly inflated prices for houses in order to divorce themselves from, what are termed, minorities by moving into areas that were price restrictive to minorities. This drove the price of many homes well beyond their actual value. The market is now correcting itself and we are in trouble.
If you could reach out to the world’s youth, what would you say to guide them in the right path?
Reg Gage: My primary message to today’s youth is to honor self-respect. Learn to like yourself, learn to love yourself, when you look in the mirror, like what you see. For one cannot truly like another person, love another person or respect another person until you can do that, at least, for yourself..
What is the biggest achievement in your life?
Reg Gage: The biggest achievement in my life is to have found my education to be truly rewarding. I am a firm believer that higher levels of consciousness are achieved by increasing knowledge. The more we learn the more awake we become. Just think back to the crib. Don’t remember huh! There are very few experiences at that time. As we experience and learn we become more alive, more awake. Case closed.
What do you hope accomplish in the future?
Reg Gage: To get my two manuscripts published. "Seven Years From Delhia," and "Nicodemus."
Thank you for the interview Reg Gage
If you would like to see Reg Gage live performance or see his amazing art work display please visit his website http://www.gagestudio.com/reg/art.html