A Guitarist’s Calling

Nathan Sparks

Larry Vincent shares his love of music through teaching

As Larry Vincent stands on stage, guitar in hand, his eyes close as he feels the movement of every note. His fingers slide effortlessly across each fret as music dances across the strings. It’s not hard to understand how deeply connected he is to his craft.

Vincent grew up in Venezuela around a music-loving family. His grandmother was a classically-trained pianist; his dad an avid guitar player. “We always had guitars around the house,” he says. “I started playing guitar when I was young.” And his love of the instrument grew from there. “That’s what brought me to Tennessee,” he says. “It was the University of Tennessee jazz program here.”

Vincent moved to Knoxville in 1987, and found a mentor in instrumentalist and music instructor Donald Brown, his ensemble director. Eventually the two would end up doing recording projects with one another, Brown even playing on Vincent’s first album, In Exile. “He’s a master musician,” Vincent says of his mentor. “There’s no one that I admire more than Donald, and I’m sure I’m one of many that get to say that in Knoxville and in the country.”

Vincent’s love of music grew. “At some point, my career in music shifted from primarily playing to more of a role as an educator,” he says. He became an adjunct instructor at Pellissippi State Community College in 1997, eventually becoming an associate professor in 2008. And  he found himself connected to his family in a new way. “[My mom] was an educated college professor and she taught teachers. Her subject is the psychology of learning,” he says. “She was forging and mentoring future educators.” And he had a desire to make that impact, too. “Just to see somebody grow in front of you [and know] that you had a small part in that, there’s nothing more rewarding.”

Vincent has been sharing his love of music with hundreds of students since 1997, but continues to play shows throughout Knoxville, where you can hear elements of jazz, South-American inspired artistry, and a little bit of rock in his work. 

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