Get to know Jazz Fellowship Awards Finalist Christian Sands


Over the next several months, we will be introducing you to each of the 5 Jazz Fellowship Awards Finalists.

Up first, Christian Sands…

CS Urban Shot_Rodney Dabney
photo credit: Rodney Dabney

1. Where did you grow up?

I grew up in a city called New Haven, CT where I spent most of my childhood. I then moved to the suburban Orange, CT. Not too far from New Haven, about 10 minutes.

2. Are you from a musical family?

I’m from a creative family. My parents played a little music when they were younger (elementary and high school) with standard lessons. Growing up, my parents did many other things as well such as writing, painting, drawing, and photography.

3. What attracted you to the piano?

The piano has always been around my life since I was a child. I grew up with it in the house, in the classroom and on stage so it has always been a huge part of my life. I loved the sound, the feel of the hammers hitting the strings, and the ability to create.

4. What age were you when you started to play the piano?

Since I could walk, I’ve always played the piano however, took formal lessons starting at 4 years old.

Christian Sands

5. How do you deal with the pressure and being on stage?

I enjoy being on stage. It gives me an opportunity to share my thinking and my creativity with new people. It’s a rush, the lights, the crowd.  I’ve been on stage since I was a young child in different settings (symphonies, jazz trios, big bands, funk groups, experimental, etc.) and every time is a new learning experience.

6. Favorite venue?

My favorite venue would have to be a concert hall. I really love the way the piano sings in a concert hall or opera house. Also when in the hall, I love when the audience is intimate with you as if you’re in a small club. When everyone’s on the same page, that’s when music happens.

7. Biggest musical influence?

My biggest musical influence would have to be the musicians of the “Young Lions” generation. People like Wynton Marsalis, Christian McBride, Kenny Garrett, Marcus Roberts, etc. The way they command the stage is astounding and inspiring. They’re coming from the tradition of bringing people into the music, but also moving it forward into new directions.

8. What is an ordinary day like for you?

An ordinary day for me running around doing errands, teaching, practicing, and getting ready for the next performance.

9. What type of music do you listen to?

I listen to as much as I can. Whether it’s Classical music, or electronic house music. From artist like James Brown and Prince to Björk and Bon Jovi. Afro Cuban and Native American folk music to Indian Raga and Arabic prayers. I try to be as well rounded as possible.

10. Favorite restaurant?

My favorite restaurant has to be Havana Central, a Cuban restaurant in New York. The food is great and the atmosphere is as if you’re in Cuba, hints of mambo and salsa playing in the background. Sometimes they bring live bands and people dance for hours. It’s excellent and a must see.

11. Favorite movie?

Favorite movie has to be the 1964 movie, Goldfinger staring Sean Connery. I love all of the James Bond movies, but Goldfinger is my favorite. My second would be Skyfall (2012) with Daniel Craig.

12. Favorite TV show(s)?

I would have to say, when it was on, Breaking Bad. Epic!

13. Favorite color?


14. Favorite season?

My favorite season is Fall.

15. Favorite vacation destination?

My favorite vacation destination is a small town called Girard, in Burke County, GA where my grandmother (mother’s mother) lives. It’s hot, but it’s peaceful and full of family and friends. It’s great place to be away from the hustle of the city once in a while and be calmly fishing with uncles or smelling grandma’s cooking.

16. Interesting facts about yourself?

Something interesting? I am somewhat of a synesthete and I used to be able to play the piano upside down.

On Saturday, September 27th, Finalist Christian Sands will kick off the American Pianists Association‘s 2014 – 2015 Jazz Fellowship Awards presented by REI Real Estate Services at the first Premiere Series concert of the competition! This concert (and the following 4 Premiere Series concerts) will begin at 8 PM at The Jazz Kitchen.

photo 4

Sullivan Fortner will perform on Saturday, November 8.
Sullivan Photo 7
photo credit: Brad Berger 

Then, Emmet Cohen on Saturday, December 6.
photo credit: Silvie Cheng

Zach Lapidus will play the first concert of 2015 on Saturday, January 24. Zach Lapidus Piano
photo credit: John Behringer

And, Kris Bowers will play the final Premiere Series concert on Saturday, February the piano with polka dot socks

The competition doesn’t stop in February!

All 5 Finalists will return to Indianapolis to perform at The Jazz Kitchen for the Semi-Finals on Friday, March 27, 2015 and at Hilbert Circle Theatre for the Finals presented by Ice Miller on Saturday, March 28, 2015.

TICKETS: 317.940.9945 |


Author: americanpianistsassociation

The mission of the American Pianists Association is to discover, promote and advance the careers of young, American jazz and classical pianists.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s