Conversation and Inspiration with Jordan Hamilton

Conversation and Inspiration with Jordan Hamilton

One of the purest forms of creativity and authenticity is imagination. We spoke with Jordan Hamilton to see how he creates new possibilities with the cello and his voice.


Cellist and vocalist Jordan Hamilton’s work has been described as “part political activism, part hopefulness, part soundspace, and all entirely mesmerizing.” An apt description. This rising star has released four EPs and will be continually throughout Michigan this year – both solo, as a member of a duo and a trio, and as part of the Earthwork Music tour: a collective of genre-spanning artists who fuse original music with cultural and environmental partnerships.


This week, as part of our “Unvarnished” series of interviews, Jordan sat down with Shar Music’s® own Ashley Downing to discuss Jordan’s current career – touching especially on his experimentation within different genres, and his personal evolution as a musician. It was a hilarious, free-ranging conversation (which you can view in full in the above video) – here are some selected excerpts:


Jordan on starting out: “When I was eight years old… I heard the cello, and I got really excited. I just ran up and down the classroom, shouting: ‘I want to play the cello, I want to play the cello!’”


On his career so far: “It’s always been a little cycle: one breadcrumb after another.”


On his high school music-playing skills: “I was the worst. …I got into another program… and I was the worst. And I so practiced a lot.”


On college: “[In orchestra] they would always shun playing, like, the Temptations or all the other stuff. …But then they would let us play the Beatles. And that would throw me off: like, why aren’t we playing Sly and the Family Stone? Why aren’t we playing the Temptations? …But then that made me get interested in what that music is.”


On attending grad school for music: “I wasn’t going to go to grad school, I was just going to stay home and study. But then, I met this teacher. …He recruited me. …And he said: ‘Just come.’”


On teaching: “Me personally, I always like to add inspiration to it. So, I’m always challenging my students, like: ‘What do you want to play? What things are you listening to? What things makes you excited?’ …If I keep asking them that question, then maybe they’re searching for it in their life. And then they can have a connection with music on a deeper level.”


On his latest solo album, Believe In...: “I got in an accident… I broke my collarbone, so I couldn’t play the cello… but I was just making beats on my MPC. So, it has a more drum-heavy type of style.” On his album Vibrations: “It’s a completely instrumental album – I always describe it to myself as the album I wanted to give my orchestra teacher or my cello teachers. It’s what I wanted to introduce to the classical music world.”


Jordan on the advice that he gives to others: “Be comfortable being uncomfortable. …Keep messing up, keep figuring it out. That’s what I would [say] to young students. …Really lean into that uncomfort. Also, listen to something and really try and copy what it is: recreate it for yourself. That’s a good practical way to try to get there."


On his orchestra – Orchestra Jammbo’laya – for students ages three to twelve: “[It’s] for the sole purpose of trying to get more black composers to string players. …There’s this alienation in your school studies… You don’t really play music that’s embraced a lot by black culture. Or, you get to the top of your studies, and you find that all of your repertoire doesn’t translate to anything that’s in your community. So, we want to try to combat that: give students the resources to be able to learn that together.”




Here, if you’d like to see the artist in action, is Jordan playing his cello as part of the Dogtown Sessions, featuring The Lasso and Grayson Nye:






Accomplished cellist, songwriter, vocalist, and producer, Jordan Hamilton merges musical styles to tell stories of the human experience through a wide variety of musical genres. musical styles to tell stories of the human experience through a wide variety of musical genres.


Growing up in Maryland, a young Jordan Hamilton began playing cello at eight years old. He is now active as a songwriter who uses his cello with loop pedals, sample machines, and vocals to create a sonic landscape that fuses classical music, folk, soul, and hip hop.


This Western Michigan University graduate pushes beyond the norm and creates new ways for the cello to relate to a modern audience. Jordan released his solo album, Vibrations, in 2021. The instrumental album is “a compilation of feelings expressed in sound without words.” Shifting from hip-hop to jazz with classical undertones, it’s a sonic journey through tone and texture. His latest solo album, Believe In... was released last year.


Jordan is a member of Last Gasp Collective and the Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra, and he recently released a trio album with The Lasso & The Saxsquatch entitled Tri Magi

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