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From Kansas City to Oakland, passing on a musical legacy

Zach Pitt-Smith


Trombonist and music educator Angela Wellman grew up in one of the cradles of American music: Kansas City, Missouri. Raised in a musical family, surrounded by Kansas City’s rich jazz and blues legacy, it’s no surprise she’s grown up to be a powerful musician and transmitter of that legacy herself.  

Now based in the East Bay, Wellman founded the Oakland Public Conservatory of Music in 2005, to provide high-quality, affordable music education to Oaklanders of all ages. In creating the school, Wellman was addressing a need she’s been aware of since she herself was a young person in conservatory. She spoke with KALW’s Jen Chien about that history, and how she’s making a difference today.

WELLMAN: I've lived my whole complete full life in music and I'm gonna die with my life in music.

Click the audio player above to listen to the complete interview.

Jen Chien was the managing editor for Crosscurrents and KALW News from 2016 to 2018. She has been a contributor to All Things Considered, Radio Netherlands Worldwide, BBC/PRI’s The World, Making Contact, SF Public Press, East Bay Express, New America Media, and KPFA in Berkeley, where she took part in the First Voice Apprenticeship Program. She is the recipient of the 2013 Outstanding Emerging Journalist Award from the Society of Professional Journalists of Northern California. She holds a BA in American Studies from Smith College, and an MA in Interdisciplinary Performance from New College of California. Before entering the field of journalism, she had a successful career as a professional dance and theater artist, teacher, and massage therapist.