Randy Weston is an internationally renowned pianist, composer, bandleader and cultural
ambassador whose compositions encompass the vast rhythmic heritage of Africa. His lifelong
connection with African music and culture is due in large part to his father, Frank Edward
Weston, who told his son that he was "an African born in America."
"He told me I had to learn about myself, about him, and about my
grandparents," Weston remembers, "and the only way to do it was to go back to the
motherland one day."
On his 1960 album, Uhuru Afrika (for which Langston Hughes wrote the liner
notes), Weston composed for large ensemble and employed traditional African percussion and
rhythms. His affinity for African music became the force behind dozens of albums released
over the following five decades.
In the late 60s, Weston left the US and moved to Africa. Though he settled in Morocco, he
traveled across the continent, tasting the musical fruits of other nations. One of
his most memorable experiences was the FESTAC 77 in Nigeria, a festival that drew
artists from 60 cultures. "At the end," Weston says, "we all realized that our music was
different but the same, because if you take out the African elements of bossa nova, samba,
jazz, and blues, you have nothing. To me, it's Mother Africa's way of surviving in the new
After six decades devoted to music, Weston continues to record, teach, and perform
throughout the Americas, Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, and Europe. He has also been
the recipient of many international awards, including honorary doctorates from
Brooklyn College, Colby College, and the New England Conservatory of Music. In 2009, he was
added to the ASCAP Jazz Wall of Fame. Two years later, Weston received a Guggenheim
Fellowship; the same year, he was named an Officer of the Order of National Merit by His
Majesty the King Mohammed VI of Morocco. In 2014, he received a Doris Duke Artist