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White Light The Way

Setting Up the Pathway to Musical Success

Joey Sommerville’s earliest and greatest memories are of growing up in church surrounded by music and celebrating the generations of men in his family, all of whom were of service to God and the community. The church helped to empower Joey to not only become the musician he is today, but to help him achieve a great understanding between music and worship. “The church is in my DNA. My great grandfather was a preacher. My grandfather was the superintendent of Sunday school for 50 years, and my dad was a deacon, trustee and pretty much everything you can be at church, just short of being the pastor,” says Joey, an Alpharetta resident. 

“When I figured out that I could make people shout for joy in church, I figured that I could make people shout for joy in the club,” says Joey. “The feeling is pretty much the same, it’s just that the venues are different. Now I have my church up in the club!” Joey grew up singing in the church choir and later played trumpet with the choir. 

A fan of making people feel the music, Joey would play a trumpet solo, once a month, on communion Sunday. “That is where I started to understand how to really touch people through music,” says Joey. “Trumpet was my principal instrument at school. I discovered that I could actually speak through the instrument."  Over time people told Joey that when they heard him play a song that they could hear the words. “I hear the words in my head,” he says. “I am singing the lyrics through the notes because I hear it like I am trying to impart the feeling of the lyrics with notes that I am playing. "

Joey recently added a new track to his soon-to-be-released album that was recorded before the pandemic. This newly recorded song “White Light the Way,” speaks of intentionality and purpose, two of Joey Sommerville’s most admirable characteristics. Both Joey and the song were influenced heavily by the founder and minister of Atlanta's Hillside Chapel, Dr. Barbara King. The song proposes that all is going to be good in this world if you set it up to be that way. The song deals with the madness of this new world that we find ourselves in and how to find peace in our day-to-day life through intentionality.

Joey Sommerville credits his mentor, Big Joe Burrell, with teaching him how to entertain people. “He could go into any venue or club, get up on stage and command a crowd and just turn the place out,” says Joey. “It’s where I learned how to read a crowd, how to read an audience, how to bring them into the music, and how to guide the show.” Nothing could be truer for both Joey Sommerville, the contemporary jazz trumpet player solidly rooted in the music of the church; and for his alter ego, Papa J Sez, who is decidedly more of an edgy blues guy. Whether you are listening to “Like You Mean It”, “Precious Lord”, or “White Light The Way”, it is clear that Joey Sommerville is one of Atlanta’s richest talents who has thoroughly enjoyed his life and the caliber of musicians that he has gotten to work with over the years. “I’ll get into trouble if I start naming names,” said Joey, “I am sure that I will forget to mention somebody."

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