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Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, James Pankow, Speaks to Belmont Students

Keen Pankow Feb.10. 2016Curb College held a seminar with James Pankow, trombonist, composer and founding member of the legendary band Chicago on Wednesday, Feb. 10. Students filled the Johnson Center’s Large Theater to attend the session led by Instructor of Music Business Dan Keen.

“Music has always been a driving force in my being,” said Pankow. His parents forced him to join band in elementary school and he soon learned of the impact that music could have on his life. Pankow’s musical pursuits led him to attend Quincy College on a music scholarship.

It was the summer after his freshman year at Quincy when that impact began. Pankow returned home for the summer and started making a living doing live shows. One thing led to another, Chicago was formed and a few years later, the band was recording their first record at Columbia Records in New York City.

Chicago released their 34th album in the summer of 2014 and are getting inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on April 8. “I’m just a musician who happened to be in the right place at the right time,” Pankow said.

During the presentation, Pankow shared advice with attendees. “Money and fame are not the goal but are rather byproducts of the pursuit of excellence,” said Pankow. He urged the students to enjoy their art and be genuine.

Keen asked Pankow how Chicago has been able to stay together for the past few decades. “We’ve always been a democracy,” Pankow said. “There is no front man. It’s always been all about the music and it always will be.”

Wrapping up, Pankow emphasized his belief that everybody on earth has a gift. “Whether we choose to use our gift or not is our decision. There are many gifted people that either don’t recognize the presence of their gift or do recognize their gift and let it go to waste. Embrace and cultivate your gift because it’s what makes you special.”