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  • Writer's pictureDestany Fuller

Dr. Chelsey Green: Reshaping Traditions And Breaking Barriers Through Music

by Destany Fuller | WeINSPIRE Journalist

SAN MARCOS, Texas – There’s a timeless saying: ‘everything happens for a reason.’ Dr. Chelsey Green and her accomplishments thus far are the perfect embodiment of that statement. Green is a musician, educator and pioneer working towards changing the standard of what’s expected from string instruments.

Green is a native of Houston, Texas, whose musical destiny was determined for her in the womb. Green says that her mother declared her a string player before she was even born, but her musical career didn’t start until she was 4 years old.

Young Chelsey Green playing her instrument. Courtesy of Chelsey Green.

“I have a family of musicians, and there were no string players,” Green explained. “My mom was like ‘she's going to be our violinist,’ and I started taking lessons when I was 4 years old. It was something that, when I was introduced to it, I really enjoyed it.”

Since the start of Green’s career, she’s continuously added to her list of accomplishments. She performed at Carnegie Hall at only 16 years old and has shared multiple stages with numerous international artists, including Stevie Wonder, Kirk Franklin, Lizzo and many others.

Green is also decorated academically with bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees in musical areas. With these degrees, she has used her knowledge to educate others as an Associate String Professor at Berklee College of Music. Green says she doesn’t take that responsibility lightly.

“When I was presented with the opportunity, it was bigger than me,” Green said. “I don’t feel like it’s about me. I feel like it’s about the fact that this opportunity has been afforded to me to be a black woman string professor. I can count the [number] of black string professors on my hands and still have fingers left.”

One of the biggest items on Green’s list of accomplishments is her founding of Chelsey Green and the Green Project, a group whose mission is to break down stereotypes within music by using classical instruments to play various genres.

“Part of the Green Project for me is just allowing people to enjoy music,” Green shared. “We’re living in such a time; it’s almost like there’s a thirst for being able to relax… part of [the group] is just to show that there’s no ‘one way’ to do anything. You can put your own spin on it, you can make it whatever you want it to be. There’s no box to be conformed [to].”

Chelsey Green and The Green Project performing. Courtesy of Chelsey Green.

The group has performed around the world, released music on multiple platforms and even offers educational music programs to people of all ages and musical backgrounds. Forming the group was never something that Green had on her agenda. Actually, a group that has made such a statement in the music world only came together after a failed date 11 years ago.

“I got stood up for a date one night,” Green explained. “I was all dressed up, I had just come from a gig, I had my viola with me… I showed up to the venue, he was a no-show. Here I was sitting there… like ‘this is not going to pan out’, so instead of wallowing in that I found my way next-door to a venue that was hosting an open mic.”

From there, Green was called on-stage to perform by the DJ, who mistook her viola for a saxophone. She then began to improvise over an instrumental of Kanye West’s “Flashing Lights. Following her performance, conversations between an eavesdropping stranger, Green and the venue owner are truly what opened the door for the creation of The Green Project.

“The owner of the lounge came out of the kitchen, listened, and, after I played, asked me to come back that weekend with my band,” Green said. “My band never existed. That was something that did not exist before that moment… Randomly, there was a woman sitting at the table behind me who overheard the conversation between myself and the lounge owner. She just happened to know the entirety of Dru Hill’s touring band.”

The woman then stepped in and assured the lounge owner that Green had a band and they’d be joining her Saturday night. After a few calls, that promise was fulfilled. Once the performance was over, Green realized how much she’d enjoyed performing in that capacity. After Dru Hill’s band was gone, she decided to continue with what they started. From there, she held auditions for the band, received a residency at a lounge and the Green Project was born.

Green shared how grateful she is for all of the opportunities she’s been presented with over the course of her life and career and hopes that her journey can be a precedent for others. She encourages others to identify their dreams and acknowledge their successes.

“My hope is that my journey can tell young women, young men, non-binary people, any ethnicity, any color [that] any dream they have is possible,” Green said. “I think so often, we judge success on outcomes. My prayer is that we really start to see success in the journey… that’s really what I pray stays people’s inspiration, that people keep [their] hope alive, that they stay in a place of faith knowing that there is another side.”

To keep up with Green’s work or to hear some of her music, visit her website or various social media pages.

Watch the Full Interview Here:

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