Notes & Narratives goes “On the Record” with saxophonist LaDarrel “SAXAPPEAL” Johnson

SaxAppeal SaxAppeal

by: Cathy R. Foreman


I first met Sax ushering out 2014 at a New Year’s Eve celebration, held at the Hayti Heritage Center in Durham, NC, hosted by the Art of Cool Project. While hanging out in the lobby, one of the band members, LaDarrel Johnson, was just standing around. I can’t remember how I knew he was one of the band members, but I slid my way over to him, introduced myself and we chatted it up a bit. We’ve remained in contact and I’d like to say that we have formed a friendship.

I’ve been watching Sax and keeping up with his happenings. He’s an all around good guy and is carving out his own space in the music industry. He’s a band member and partner to some incredible acts, in addition to being his own kind of musician – putting out music that appeals to an audience who he even says was surprisingly received.

When the idea of this blog was fast tracked to reality, the timing couldn’t have been more perfect; coinciding with Zo! returning, to the area,  for a live performance at The Pour House Music Hall in Raleigh. With this news, I knew it was a prime opportunity, so I reached out to Sax and asked for an interview, to which he replied no problem.

Of course I took in the show … I mean really, how can you miss the chance to rock it out with Zo!  Afterwards, once the crowd died down, we found a quiet place to begin our chat.

Here are some highlights… Check out the full interview on our youtube channel or scroll to the bottom of this page.

N&N: In a previous interview, you’ve stated that you want to “rekindle the flame between people and music”, how exactly are you doing that through your music?

SAX: “…there’s that human interaction and that connection that we all have with music”

 Photograph and Artwork by: Cathy Foreman - Artwork available at her website.
Photograph and Artwork by: Cathy Foreman – Artwork available at her website.

N&N: If you had to pick one thing, tell me what do you think is causing a disconnect between people and music?

SAX: “…it’s not for the right purpose. I never wanted to be one of those people who liked music so I could make money”

N&N: What’s one thing you learned early on that you have taken with you throughout your musical journey?

SAX: “…if you want your music to evolve and to elevate to a greater level, then you gotta continue to put in the work”

N&N: As a musician, you get the opportunity to play with some major acts; who has been your favorite thus far and why?

SAX: “…that’s tough … I appreciate each and every musical experience I’ve been blessed to work with”

N&N: Who is your dream act to perform with?

SAX: “…the GOAT” – I would be straight fan-boying”

N&N: You created your own band, Collective Peace, but they have since disbanded – what did you learn from the experience?

SAX: “…it’s nothing but a blessing to be included in the conversation of great music”

N&N: What do you think is harder, maintaining your own band or gigging with unlimited potentials.

SAX: “…it feels like a marriage between however many people you have in that band”

N&N: How do you keep the fun and love in your passion as opposed to always looking at this as a job?

SAX: “…this is an opportunity…it’s an event; it has to be an event every time I hit the stage”

N&N: You’ve accomplished quite a bit in your tenure, I know there’s much more … so tell me what’s next?

SAX: “… solo project, Ghana, Soweto”

N&N: What do you want to leave our readers with?

SAX: “…figure out your happy place and reverberate it”