Beyond Community: Charles Goold
Keeping Music Alive in New York City
“So many things have happened to me. I definitely have a much greater appreciation for all the things I do have and how quickly those things can go away.”
Charles Goold, jazz drummer and community mentor
Born with jazz
Charles Goold grew up with a mother from Haiti and a famous father from the world of jazz: Ned Goold. Charles’ ambition of one day becoming a jazz musician was shaped and driven by his father’s place within the industry.
And when his dream of following in his father’s footsteps spurred him away from college and back to New York City at the age of 19, he took every chance he could get to perform.
Six years of working, teaching jazz, and playing all over the city finally paid off when a chance presented itself and Charles auditioned for a scholarship at the prestigious Julliard School. After receiving the full scholarship, he turned into a talented multi-instrumentalist with a particular love for jazz and drums.
Community through art
The thing about jazz is that it has a way of building community. At least to Charles, who experienced it throughout his childhood. He got to join his dad on stage at an early age and played side by side with some big names within the jazz industry, learning from great musicians who were keen to share their wisdom.
For Charles, being a musician in NYC through the pandemic added another dimension to the jazz community. At the onset of Covid-19, musicians suddenly found themselves without shows or gigs, so they turned to each other and created a newfound collective.
This became a safe place where musicians could heal and grow, despite not being able to do what they love. It sparked a community of learning, teaching, evolving, and refinement of their art together.
Inspiring the next generation
Jazz has always had a culture of passing things down to the next generation or the next up-and-coming artist. There’s a distinct philosophy of teaching aspiring musicians and creating familial surroundings with “uncles” or “big brothers”, who look out for new artists and help to show them the way.
“That has always been a thing in the jazz world because we’re a small community and it’s a small culture. We’re tight-knit, and we pass things down in order for younger generations to keep it going and to add to it.”
Charles sees jazz as a community of acceptance and inclusion. The same mentality now drives him in his voluntary projects, where he gives back to his fellow community members.
He continues teaching the history and values of jazz via The Lincoln Center’s “Jazz for Young People Program”, reaching public-school students across New York. In honor of his Haitian mother, he also contributes to dispel negative stereotypes about Haitian culture through concerts and more.
To his surprise, Charles has now reached a position where he is himself considered a mentor within the jazz community at the age of 33.
“Now, I’ve become the “big brother” to a lot of people, and I can’t believe this has happened. I can’t believe I’m Mr. Goold now. I don’t know when that happened, but it has happened, and I love it. I love helping guys out.”
When thinking of the jazz community in NYC, the drummer thinks of it as a home. When he leaves the city, he quickly longs for the fellowship of his jazz circle and the feeling they bring.