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November 21, 2022

Alumni Spotlight: Judah Sealy’06 (Music)

"One of the best feelings is hearing my own music on the radio. It’s surreal."

Judah Sealy has made his mark on jazz history. His song “Stylish” went #1 on the Billboard Smooth Jazz Charts.

When he’s not charting, you’ll find him working as the Music Teacher at Rochester Prep Charter School.

Tell us your journey!

I picked up the saxophone at a young age. My goal has always been to have my music be enjoyed alongside all the great artists I have loved since I was a child.

After graduating from Roberts, I found regular work in Rochester as a sideman for shows. Eventually, I worked my way up to becoming a band leader.

I published my first single in 2014. Hearing my tracks come to fruition makes me feel like a kid on Christmas!

A year later, I accepted a job as a music teacher at the Rochester Prep Charter School.

Judah Sealy

What’s the inspiration behind your latest album?

Someone told me that God creates beauty out of the things meant to destroy us. I believe this album is an example of that beauty.

This album is the culmination of a year and a half long struggle. I’ve faced a lot of personal difficulty lately, so I poured my heart and soul into this project.

Creating this album has been a step forward in my healing journey.

I’m inspired by this Bible verse: “But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)

Looking back on your memories of Roberts, what stands out?

Going to chapel. When I was a student, I didn't appreciate its value. Now, however, I miss it and wish I had something like that today.

As far as music goes, the “Jazz and Desserts” concerts were always my favorite time.

I loved playing with my fellow students for the community. I got to play solos, like gospel songs with jazz flavors.

How did your professors help your journey?

Paul Shewan

Professor Paul Shewan inspired me to become a teacher. He saw something in me that I didn’t see.

He sat me in his office one day and told me I should become a teacher because I could be a good role model.

My teachers definitely helped me grow as a musician.

I’ve learned jazz theory that I still apply to this day. I learned how to transcribe solos and how important that is.

What would you say to an aspiring musician considering Roberts?

I would absolutely recommend the school. I had great memories here.

Be flexible and don’t be afraid to reach out and ask questions. Learn from those that are doing what you want to do.

What’s it like to be a professional musician?

One of the best feelings is hearing my own music on the radio. It’s surreal.

Who is your biggest inspiration?

My daughter (Raya) is my world and everything I do is for her.

Here’s a clip of my baby girl jammin’ out.

When you walk into your classroom, what are some of the key things you want to pass on to your students?

A love and respect for music.

Even if they don’t grow up to be musicians, I want them to have an understanding about how music affects and impacts the world around us.

I want them to understand what they are hearing, who sings what, who plays what. They’ll walk away with a healthy awareness of music in our world today, yesterday, and tomorrow.

Watch me playing with Mark Russell, a fellow saxophone player.

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