Professing and Performing: Who Gregory Satterthwaite Is
By Keshondra Shipp
Many professors focus all their time and energy into mainly being a professor. For Gregory Satterthwaite, this is not the case.
When the musician and educator first moved to Georgia, he had already possessed an experienced background in jazz and piano. Having started playing the piano when he was around 10 years old, his passion for wanting to teach others came later in life.
“I like seeing the lightbulb go off in the students’ eyes,” Satterthwaite said. “I like to see when they get something and love when that changes their life or how they view something.”
Gregory Satterthwaite, who holds a doctorate in musical arts, is an assistant professor of jazz piano and African American studies at the University of Georgia. When it comes to music, he is a pianist, composer, producer and songwriter.
Originally from Jamaica, he grew up in south Florida where he had his first piano teacher, Angie Williams, who Satterthwaite said was a local community treasure. He learned from her until he started attending his performing arts school in seventh grade.
Satterthwaite said that he loves the creative process the most about being a musician and producer. It is this process that leads him beyond just teaching music as a professor.
“Starting from the beginning with nothing, just kind of an idea, and then you develop it into this whole thing,” he said.
It is a satisfying and fulfilling process that Satterthwaite gets to partake in on a regular basis. His love for music and wanting to continuously learn has gotten him to where he now is in life.
Who He Is
One of the many projects that Satterthwaite has created or produced was
his first album. In 2014, he released Who I Am, which is a jazz piano album that he explained is the beginning of his legacy.
“It was just an opportunity to just capture, at that point, where I was at as an artist and express music that was important to me” he explained.
Satterthwaite also mentioned how to produce such a project was expensive on his end. The album presented itself as a financial sacrifice, but his love for creating music and the drive to contribute to his legacy motivated him to complete the album.
He mentioned that he plans to start recording his second album in the summer or fall of this year and that it would incorporate aspects of his home country and nationality.
Along with his album, another factor that impacts who Satterthwaite is are his colleagues and friends.
Dr. James Weidman is an assistant professor of piano and African American studies like Satterthwaite. Both began working at the University of Georgia at the same time last year and held a duo piano recital earlier this semester as their introduction to the Hugh Hodgson School of Music.
“He’s fantastic,’ said Weidman. “He does his piece from a certain angle, and I try to compliment him and vice versa.”
Weidman explained that it’s good for students as well to experience his and Satterthwaite’s viewpoints on jazz and piano because there is a lot that falls under the jazz genre.
“He’s somebody who just doesn’t think about himself,” said Jean Kidula, professor of music in ethnomusicology.
She explains that Satterthwaite is good at his craft, but he does not let that stop him from helping other people.
A Legacy in the Making
Satterthwaite receives numerous opportunities to perform. For most of the gigs he receives outside of the school of music, he is paid separately for doing those. For any performances within the University of Georgia, those are a part of his duties already as a professor of music.
Along with performing, Satterthwaite has a positive impact on just about everyone he encounters. Whether it’s through music, teaching, or life in general, he’s an individual that brings an element of uniqueness to all that he does.
His friend and coworker, Dr. Brian Wesolowski, a professor of music education at the university, has known Satterthwaite for about 20 years. He expressed that his personality always seems to bring a sense of calmness to every situation and that he is one of the nicest and genuine guys out there.
“He has it all,” Wesolowski said. “And he can meld it into so many diverse musical situations. He’s the complete package.”