New Britain’s has many hidden talents. Among them is Ace Livingston.
Livingston has toured the country and played with many nationally known groups and singers. It is a far cry from when he first started. The son of Jamaican clergy, his family came to the USA in 1988. At that time his life revolved around soccer. But an injury ended all his aspirations of playing professionally in an English soccer league.
“Plan B” was music, and his family formed a church music group called “Sons of Inspiration.” As the youngest and smallest one in the group, age 8, he was relegated to playing bass guitar while his bigger siblings took the lead roles. He still carries pictures of himself hunched over the bass guitar that was bigger than he was himself. But it was the start of a special career.
He learned to play regular guitar, piano and drums, but bass guitar was always his main love and he began touring with groups such as “98 Degrees.” He also played with notables such as Harry Connick Jr, Jessica Simpson, and Jennifer Lopez. His TV appearances include The Stan Simpson Show, Better Connecticut, 106 and Park, Good Morning America, The Today Show, The Howie Mandell Show, The Rosie O’Donnell Show and The Potters House. But being on the road had a steep learning curve. He found he had to learn things quickly, perform it exactly and the cultural differences from his Christian upbringing at times were significant.
While Livingston has a great repertoire of many styles, he prefers jazz music.
“Jazz allows me to express myself, Livingston said. “Jazz allows everyone to have their own perceptions of what is happening. And I like it when people tell you what they feel, or felt, in the song…. the emotion that you put into it and if they felt it too when they heard it. When they tell you that, it is so rewarding.”
Livingston continued, “Every time I play it is so inspiring because someone hears you that never heard you before. So I play my heart out every time for that one person. The most important part of the live experience is feeling appreciation from the audience for what you share on stage with your fellow musicians. We always like to know that our music is making a difference in the lives of people.”
Livingston has two albums currently out, My Metamorphosis and The Ace Livingston Project. Samples from both of these albums can be heard at www.acelivingston.com . He is currently working on a third album expected out next spring.
“With Facebook, people just stay home. But with live music people get dressed and go out and interact with others,” he said. “I want to bring live music back into the community.”
He also wants to open options for kids.
“Music is like karate: discipline, hard work, and then you get to perform after those sacrificial nights when you were practicing instead of playing outside,” said Livingston. “At the performance, when your friends appreciate every song, that’s the reward that makes it. My goal is to get sponsors and instruments so that kids who cannot afford it have a place to come and learn and have mentors.”
In the past there were always places where local musicians would meet and just play for fun. Younger musicians could come and learn and perhaps join in at times. These impromptu jam sessions were the launching pad for many life-long joys and memories. Asked if there were still any such places now, Livingston’s face turned sad as he replied, “To my knowledge, no.”
“Music has a way of bringing people together. But the only way it will work is if you give it a chance. We have so very much talent right here in New Britain.,” he said. “But if we don’t have a platform to showcase those talents, it won’t work. We, music, need the support of Journal readers and that will help build the community back.”
Livingston said he believes that by attending live music events, people interact with both the music and with each other. “One thing leads to another and kids will see that ‘we can do this.”