We had the good fortune of connecting with Scott Gehman and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Scott, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
I’ve been a musician and composer since my teen years, so making a living this way was always a goal of mine. During my high school (HSPVA) and university (NTSU and Rice’s Shepherd School) training, I quickly learned that if I were to succeed as a musician, I would need to make every employment opportunity move me closer and closer to a career as a composer. The first self employment opportunity I had in high school was teaching amateur musicians, arranging music for bands and orchestras and producing location recordings for local symphonies and ensembles. I continued this through university, along with retail music/sound related jobs at record and electronics stores. My first full time business was after I graduated: I taught saxophone and clarinet at Houston are middle and high schools, and continued to write and arrange and produce music and recordings for local ensembles and vocalists. This lead to an opportunity to serve a music director and instructor for a local high school. I choose this path for a while because I had just married and this job provided both the stability my family needed as well as the flexibility I needed to keep my music business efforts active. Four years later I left to complete other graduate degrees that qualified me for more flexible teaching and adminsitrative duties in higher education. As Chair of a local college’s commercial music program, my responsibilities required continued involvement in the music industry to keep the curriculum pertinent and innovative. I now have decades of success as a teacher, engineer producer and composer. For centuries, musicians have interleaved teaching, production and creativity into successful careers; I was no different. My advice to young musicians preparing for this career: learn as many musical skills as you can, make every job choice one that is related, even remotely, to music (and as you change jobs, make the next one closer), keep your options open and seriously consider teaching music as a way to bridge your status from ‘gifted amateur’ to ‘famous star.’ There are very few that final goal, but due to the humanity’s universal love for music, there are plenty of opportunities in between.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
My collaborations with writing partners Burton Wolfe and Lawrence Wong have yielded a unique art form: bi-lingual Broadway style musicals. We’ve produce many. The first was commissioned by the People’s Republic of China. “The Legend of Yin and Yang” is a classic tale of good over coming evil through the combined efforts of two rival nations. The Yins and Yangs have been friendly rivals since the earth began, but through temptations of the Evil One, they soon are at war and are in danger of exterminating each other. Each nation’s prime ministers understand this threat and soon plan a romance between the new leaders: Princess Yin and Prince Yang. Much of the action of the musical revolve the efforts of the Evil One to derail their relationship. World premieres were in Zunyi, China and Sarasota, Florida and PBS produced the documentary “The Making of a Legend” for broadcast. The cast included actors, dancers, singers and acrobats from both Zunyi and Sarasota. Yin and Yang’s success led to a reprise production of it in another important Chinese city: Shenzen. Shenzen is the first of the ‘Special Economic Zones’ China experimented with in the ’80s to see if capitalism works. It did. Shenzen grew from a small fishing village (ca. 60,000) to a city of 13 million in a few decades, all due to this experiment. The success Burton, Lawrence and I had with the reprise production lead to a commission from Shenzhen to dramatize its unprecedented success story. The result was our bilingual Broadway musical, “Metropolis.” Through romance, drama, song and dance, Metropolis recounts Shenzen’s meteoric rise from a small fishing village to a major rival of its neighbor, Hong Kong. Metropolis has seen production in China, Houston and New York City. The success of each lead to the bilingual Vietnamese music, The Tale of Kieu. Kieu is one of Vietnam’s epic poems and is its story is often seen as a metaphor to Vietnam’s tenacious response to the many nations that have tried to subdue it. Another bi-lingual music we’ve written is ‘The Boat People’, recounting the history of Vietnamese refugees fleeing the newly form communist country for the US. The third Mandarin/English musical we’ve produced is ‘Kung Fu Hero’, recounting the life of Fong Sai Yuk, a Shaolin folk hero from Guangdong during the Qing dynasty. We’ve also produce English musicals embracing multi-culturalism. Two examples come to mind: Red Wedding’s subject is the Tiananmen Square uprising in 1989; ‘Neighbors’ is concerned with the Palestinian / Israeli conflict in the Middle East. We’ve created many more smaller productions.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Here’s a short list of people that helped me succeed: Burton Wolfe Lawrence Wong Art Gottschalk Paul Cooper Elsworth Milburn Thom Baynum Conrad ‘Prof’ Johnson William ‘Bubbha’ Thomas Fletch Wiley Darrell Harris