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Meet Cleaveland Jones

Today we’d like to introduce you to Cleaveland Jones.

Cleaveland, before we jump into specific questions about your work, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
A late bloomer, I started pursuing music in my early 20’s. The first steps in my journey were to immerse myself in Tibetan Studies in Nepal, Bhutan and India, before moving to Brazil for almost two years to study Brazilian guitar. That eventually led me to Miami, because when I returned to the U.S., I was looking for an influential place that was a mix of North and South America. Miami fits that bill.

I spent my early years in Miami studying music and production at both University of Miami and Miami-Dade College and eventually started working as a freelance musician in South Florida. Along the way, I’ve collaborated with amazing Miami talent, including Nicole Henry and Locos Por Juana. I’ve held long-term musical residencies at South Beach hotels like The Standard, the Gale Hotel (Regent Cocktail Club), and The Palms. I have also performed at local festivals including Carnival on the Mile, Grassroots Festival and recently the Buskerfest main stage at Bayfront Park.

Along the way, I spent five years as music director and general manager of the Miami School of Rock, which was my way of giving back to the next generation of musicians. It was an inspiring time and I learned so much, but it also took me away from creating and producing my own music.

I’m a multi-instrumentalist whose music feels good, channeling the culture of Brazil, Jamaica and Miami with guitars, percussion, horns and keys. Now, I’ve been recording songs at a state-of-the-art home studio I built in my Coconut Grove home. In late 2019, I released three singles and a video, and on January 17th, 2020, I’m releasing a 4-song EP called HEART & SOL. I’m super excited about the release and I’ll be performing the new set throughout Miami.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
The artistic path is fraught with challenges, at least for most. They say, “it’s nice work if you can get it,” for a reason. Early on, the struggles are getting away from cover songs, writing and playing your own music, gaining a reputation, and building a network of industry and fan support. As things progress, it’s hard to feel too satisfied with most successes; yes, there’s tremendous emotional fulfillment and joy with completing a production or writing a song, but there’s so much more to be done such as booking shows, booking backup musicians, scheduling rehearsals, handling promotions, etc. It’s a lot, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Can you give our readers some background on your music?
I am a musician, music producer and music educator. I currently specialize in production as I also develop talent, and am actively expanding my home studio to accommodate musicians and collaborators. I’m known for my ability to blend South American and Caribbean beats and sounds that are uniquely my own – it’s hip-shaking music that transports my fans to faraway places. I’m most proud of my recent songs and productions. One thing that sets me apart is originality – I think my work is very unique.

What were you like growing up?
Like most musicians, I wasn’t the athletic kid or the popular kid, and it wasn’t until High School that I truly realized I was the artistic kid. Early on, I was into the visual arts, not music, and after experimenting in various mediums, I had developed a passion for designing and forming ceramic objects. Then music took over and I’ve been all-consumed since. Like most musicians, writing and performing music is about problem-solving, mathematics, putting puzzles together from pieces of music, sounds, words, composition, chronology, etc. It’s incredibly challenging, and very, very few people can do it.

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