Pianist, composer, and arranger Jean Prosper (French pronunciation) has toured in cities across the United States and Canada. Born in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti, after his family’s immigration to Montreal, Canada, he received keyboard training and his music education at Canada’s Royal Conservatory of Music, in Montreal. He also went to a private school, Kingsway College, in Oshawa, Ontario, where, as a choir member, he traveled across Canada and parts of the United States and performed major choral works twice a year with the Oshawa Symphony Orchestra. While studying in Oshawa, Jean won 1st prize at the Kiwanis Piano Competition. Later, after moving to the United States, Jean studied piano at Andrews University and at Indiana University.
His musical influences are diverse. His father was a famous Haitian evangelist who insisted that his children listen to classical and sacred music. However, beyond the walls of the family home, the rhythms of the Haitian people reverberated everywhere―they were inescapable. The drumming and singing he would hear in the middle of the night had a major impact on his musical development. In Montreal, a friend took Jean to meet her next-door neighbor, who was a piano teacher and who happened to be the sister of Oscar Peterson. Until that time, Jean had no idea who Oscar Peterson was, so he went to find some of the jazz great’s records, which, for Jean, turned out to be a life-changing revelation.
Although Jean’s main focus is jazz, he performs other genres of music spanning the classical to gospel repertoires. (Chopin, Mozart, Bach, Brahms and Beethoven are among his favorite composers.) He has performed for thousands on concert stages; in churches, parks, clubs, and people’s homes; and at restaurants, schools, wineries, arts centers, weddings, funerals, museums, and jazz festivals. In 1999, he garnered a prestigious Stellar Award nomination for his recording Getting Up Morning.
An artist of choice for the distinguished Mendel Performing Arts Center of Benton Harbor, Michigan, Jean has been called upon to perform as reception entertainment for such world renowned artists as Ramsey Lewis and Lou Rawls. Twice Jean has had the great honor of being requested to perform for the “champ,” Muhammad Ali.
A perpetual student of music and of life, Jean Prosper believes that knowledge should not be accumulated, that you should start each day in a state of unknowing because each day is a new experience. He also believes that artists do not exist for the ego’s sake, but that they are there to remind others that they have a heart and a soul. His greatest satisfaction is seeing the smiles that his music brings to people’s faces.