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Halifax County native finds success in music industry

At an early age, Halifax County native Stacey Lamont Sydnor found his love for music, and that love has led him toward success in the music industry.

Sydnor has worked with many big-named artists, composed music for popular television shows, played on soundtracks for feature films, and he has made a few television appearances.

 He currently is touring with the Jacksons on “The Unity Tour” working as a drummer for the band.

“I started working with Jermaine [Jackson] three years ago.  I was at a rehearsal for Jamie Foxx, and Jermaine was rehearsing across the hall for his African Tour, and their percussionist was let go.  

“A good friend of mine, Damien Farmer, told them to check me out across the hall,” Sydnor recalled.  

“They invited me to audition for Jermaine, and I got the call later that evening from our current music director, Rex Salas, that they wanted to hire me.  That experience allowed me to be on the current Reunion Tour entitled ‘The Unity Tour,’” Sydnor added. 

“It has been a surreal experience to be on tour with the Jackson Brothers.  The first show in Canada, I got caught looking at the projection screen in awe and realized I was onstage when the camera panned to me as everyone else did also.  

“Recently at The Apollo in New York City, where they were discovered, the emotions were so high, it was hard to contain,” Sydnor said in a recent interview.  

The band is comprised of a “who’s who” on each instrument, and we all get along like a family down to the road crew and technicians.  

“So far it’s been a true dream come true and has been fun beyond words that I can use to describe,” he continued. 

The son of Shirley Sydnor of Nathalie and the late Winston Sydnor Jr., Sydnor grew up in the Crystal Hill community and first got involved with music through his church.  

His father and uncle were part of a gospel quartet. His dad and cousins served as drummers for the band. 

“They rehearsed at my grandmother’s house in the basement, and I was totally intrigued,” Sydnor said. “My dad also had a bunch of records and 8-tracks that I would often sneak and listen to and emulate what I heard on anything I could beat on.”

Sydnor began playing in the Scottburg Elementary School band under the direction of Johnnie Davis.

“My grandmother bought me my first, gold-sparkled snare drum from Stevens Music. From there I fell in love for the first time,” Sydnor said.

 From that point on, Sydnor practiced every opportunity he could get.

“I got serious when I saw my current friend and lifetime mentor Damon Brown, Harold Green, Herman Brandon along with Donald and Tom Adams play, and it totally blew my mind,” Sydnor said.

The county native said he has played at almost every church in Halifax County, his home base being Traynham Grove Baptist Church. He also played with several local groups like the Harmonettes, Adams Family and Pilgrim Strangers.

“I went on to play in Richmond later in life at Mt. Olivet (Petersburg), St. Paul and Richmond Christian Center,” Sydnor said.

 Syndor is part of the 1993 class of Halifax County High School, and as a student there, he participated in their marching and jazz bands.

 At the age of 16, Sydnor did his first tour with a gospel group called The Heavenly Five.

“My first tour blew my mind and further led to my decision of playing professionally,” Sydnor said.  “The first time I saw New York I lost it. I came home, worked even harder as around this time my mentor, Damon Brown, took me under his tutelage and introduced me to a wider range of music, and I joined his band ‘Infinity,’ replacing Herman Brandon who had joined the U.S. Army band,” Sydnor said.

 After graduating from high school in 1993, Sydnor joined the U. S. Marines and played in the U.S. Marine Corps band.

“The U.S. Marine Corps was good for me on many levels. It made me a man and was my first true stint as a professional musician.  I attained the rank of E-5 (Sergeant) in three years.  I did four years active and four in the reserves,” Sydnor said.

In 2005 Sydnor moved to Los Angles where he played under Bishop Noel Jones at the City of Refuge.

“The move proved beneficial and life changing in terms of the level of drumming and musicianship is concerned.  A move I am true to believe was God ordained and in his will,” Sydnor said. 

“The City of Refuge is where I got my music start in L.A.  My fiancée at that time, Tracey, asked could I audition to the Minister of Music, Gerald Haddon, before I even moved there, and he said yes, and from that moment, I was there for five years.  Bishop Jones is an eloquent and amazing orator and pastor. It was an amazing experience as I loved watching him on television.”

Sydnor is versed on all styles of music ranging from classical to hip hop and all in between. My favorite styles to play are traditional jazz, rock and gospel.

 His early influences include Damon Brown, Donald Adams, Herman Brandon, Lee Majors, The Gospel Keynotes, The Violinaires, Jimmy Dixon, Hee Haw and all of his dad’s old records (Blues and Motown). 

In his teen years, Sydnor said Art Blakey, Dennis Chambers, Steve Gadd, Ladell Abrams, Leron Blake, Will Kennedy, Jeff “Tain” Watts, Artimous Pyle, The Allman Brothers, AC DC and Led Zepplin were all major musical influences.

“I have always listened to a wide variety of music as all music gives life to what I call my style of playing.  I grew up near South Boston where quartet gospel and country music at the fair was king in my life as was Hee Haw on Saturdays. 

“Damon Brown introduced me to a new world of music when he drilled me in jazz, southern rock and R&B, and my band teacher in high school, Larry Gatewood, helped to hone my love for classical music as well as introducing me to the music field in the military.  

“He was a highly decorated band leader from the Navy who we did not appreciate until I learned of his legend when in the Marine Band,” Sydnor added.

Since his move to L. A., Sydnor said he has had the opportunity to perform and tour with many big names in the industry like Hilary Duff, Alicia Keys, the Temptations, Diddy, Busta Rhymes, Nicole Scherzinger, Michelle Williams and many more. 

The first professional secular artist he worked with was Tevin Campbell.

“Working with well-known artists is fun and often challenging.  The main thing is being professional and remembering that good ole South Boston home training helped me earn great respect and the honor of being a first call musician in the city where the best truly flock to while chasing the dream of being a professional musician,” Sydnor said. 

“Every artist is different, so each situation brings forth its own set of challenges and personal goals.  Working with as many artists from various genres has allowed me to grow immensely as a musician, businessman and man,” he added.

Of all the artists Sydnor has worked with, he said his favorites are the Jacksons, Kevin Teasley (film and tv composer), Alicia Keys, Jonathan Butler, Macy Gray and Deitrick Haddon.

 Sydnor has made appearances on popular television shows, movies and television specials such as “Life After,” “Unsung,” “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” “BET Awards,” “VH1 Hip Hop Honors,” “Being Mary Mary,” an upcoming Charles Dutton Film starring Meagan Goode, “The Ellen Show,” “Tyra Banks Show” and “Jimmy Kimmell.”

He has played on numerous soundtracks and movie trailers for feature films such as “Final Destination 5,” “Harry Potter,” “Avatar,” “Spiderman” and more.

In addition to playing on soundtracks, he also has been the composer for “Perfect Holiday,” “College Hill,” David E. Talbert’s “What My Husband Doesn’t Know,” “Suddenly Single,” Malcolm-Jamal Warner’s 2013 album and Mike Corrado (first five records).

“I amassed a bunch of awards during my school years such as all district and state band, John Phillip Sousa Award, and as a grown up, you kind of do not get awards just paychecks,” he said.

Sydnor has played on a couple of multi-platinum records, one by Robbie Williams, and the other Daniel Powter that he describes as “an honor.” 

“Success in the music industry comes from tenacity, patience, networking, a lot of practice and often giving up social things,” and he is quick to credit God “most of all” for his success.

  Sydnor currently holds an A. A. S. in management from J. Sargent Reynolds Community College and a B. A. S. in human resource management from Virginia State University. 

 He plans to go back to school to get an M. B. A. and possibly his doctorate in business as well.

“My future endeavors include honoring my production and writing craft that will bring forth some hits and mainly for film and television. I am also in the process of opening a couple of Subway franchises and a Yogurt franchise in the next six months to a year. I am also looking to open a music supper club as well,” Sydnor said.