Congratulations FAME Jazz Band Program High School Graduates!

ninaNia Harris Burnley, Piano

Nia has played piano since the age of three and the clarinet since the 4th grade. She has participated in advanced school bands and orchestras each year. To satisfy her interest in playing jazz, she participated in Bishop McNamara’s Jazz Summer Camp and attended the Washington Jazz Arts Institute during the summer of 2015. In November 2015 Nia auditioned for the inaugural FAME Jazz Band Program. She attended FAME’s weekly academic tutoring sessions conducted by Innovative Study Techniques, private saxophone lessons, sectionals and rehearsals, advanced music theory, and attended FAME’s Summer Music Technology Program. Nia participated in performances at the Berklee School of Music, Focused on the Future TV show, Lake Arbor Jazz Festival, and many more.

Nia recently graduated from Bishop McNamara High School with a 3.7 GPA and received numerous academic and musical awards including Summa Cum Laude, The Jazz Lab Directors Award, The Ellen Mercer Scholarship Award and The John Phillip Sousa Award. She was involved in the National Honors Society, English Honors Society, Fine Arts Diploma Program; and President of the Tri-M Music Honors Society and Student Council Cabinet. She was accepted into several colleges: St. John’s University, Hampton University, Duquesne University, Howard University, University of Baltimore County, Temple University, and University of Miami School of Music. This Fall Nia will major in business with a music minor at Howard University.

Nia attributes her interest in jazz to her grandfather, the late legendary jazz saxophonist Eddie Harris. She is grateful to her parents, Yvonne and Kenneth Burnley, and her grandmother, Sara Harris, who always encourage her musical and academic pursuits. Nia remarked that “participation in the FAME programs enabled me to achieve advanced academic and artistic goals”.

William PorterjrWilliam Porter Jr., Tenor Sax

William started playing the alto saxophone in the fourth grade and continued to play throughout the middle school where he participated in both school’s jazz bands and performed multiple solos and sang in the Gwynn Park Middle School’s After School Chorus. William auditioned to attend Benjamin Foulois Creative and Performing Arts and Suitland High School Performing Arts Schools. He participated in Suitland’s Advanced band and Jazz bands. He was accepted into the Prince George’s County Honor’s Band program several times and advanced to the Solo and Ensemble Competitions for saxophone duets. William has a strong desire to play the saxophone at a high level.

William is an inaugural member of FAME Jazz Band Program. Although he auditioned with FAME as an alto sax player, he started playing the tenor saxophone for FAME in the tenth grade to fill a void in the band.  Each year William’s playing has grown by leaps and bounds. Today he is a professional musician – commanding his instrument!   William says that “it was the participation in FAME’s many music programs that ignited my passion for jazz and helped me to pursue jazz instead of classical music”.  William has recently graduated from Suitland high school. During his time there he participated in multiple programs such as AP courses, IB courses, and the CVPA band program. He was accepted into Berklee College of Music and will be attending The New School in New York, NY.  William plans to receive a bachelor’s in jazz studies; then he plans to focus on writing, arranging, and performing music with his talented sister.


ABOUT FJBP: With the support and expertise from several national and local educators and musicians, and the Prince George’s County Government, the FAME JAZZ BAND PROGRAM was established in 2015 by A. Toni Lewis, Founder and Executive Director of FAME.  The Artistic Director is renowned music educator and performer, Dr. Clarence E. Knight, Jr.  The overall goal of the FAME JAZZ BAND PROGRAM is to provide year-round high caliber music and academic instruction to talented Prince George’s County Maryland middle and high school youth.  The students perform on major stages, serve as ambassadors for the State and County, receive academic and college prep tutoring during the school year; and participate in music theory, technology, and instrumental programs.  The Inaugural artistic director was Nat Adderley, Jr., international jazz pianist and former music director for Luther Vandross.


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