Music has always been part of Mansa Campbell’s life. His father was a blues guitarist, so it was no surprise that as a child he wanted to pick up an instrument.
“I remember seeing a trumpet in a window and saying, ‘I want to play that,’” says Campbell. “And he said, ‘Go ahead.’ That’s how it started and it never stopped.”
Campbell, a junior music performance major from Nassau, Bahamas, says he had a brief fling with drums, but the trumpet always seemed “cooler.” His talents on the instrument have not gone unnoticed.
Freddie Green, Missouri Southern State University’s professor of trumpet, recruited Campbell to join the university’s music department. Recently, Campbell received exposure on an even larger stage.
The Missouri Southern student attended the Joshua Tree Music Festival – held Oct. 4-8 in Joshua Tree, Calif. – to sit in with fellow Bahamian Selah Poitier and her band. The bassist/vocalist/songwriter is known for her unique style, which is a blend of jazz/hip-hop fusion, blues and funk, along with R&B, gospel, reggae and traditional music.
“We met back home in the Bahamas,” says Campbell. “There’s a circle of young people trying to make something of themselves through music. Selah’s always been a guiding light to everybody.
“We talked about me joining her to perform during the summer and planned everything out.”
Founded in 2003, the biannual music festival is set against the backdrop of the Mojave and offers an eclectic lineup of musicians to create “a global music experience.” Festival organizers say they have heard submissions from thousands of new artists, “and Selah stands out as someone with an uber bright musical future.”
Campbell says he plays with Poitier whenever he’s home, and there’s a possibility the festival performance with her band could become an ongoing relationship. He’s also looking to the future – one in which he’s able to do more than just perform.
“I write on a daily basis … anything from rock to jazz and funk,” he says. “It’s a mixture of styles, putting my own spin on it.”