Melton Mustafa, Sr.: The Power of Knowing Your Purpose

Creating a lasting legacy requires dedication and passion, according to this acclaimed jazz musician

How does an artist craft a beautiful legacy, full of meaning and purpose? In Episode 6 of The God and Gigs Show, we talk with jazz artist, professor and composer Melton Mustafa, Sr.  As an accomplished trumpeter for over six decades, Mustafa has enjoyed working with many of the greats of jazz, Latin, pop, and R&B. His perspective on life as a musician and our purpose as artists carries a message which transcends the music itself. 

Melton Mustafa, Sr. began his musical career in Miami playing the trumpet in junior high school and, as a teenager, played in a five-piece R&B/calypso band led by his brother.  He studied at Berklee College of Music and Mississippi Valley State College before graduating from Florida A&M with a degree in music education. As a young musician, he traveled with bands backing artists like Sam & Dave, Betty Wright, Latimore, and the Marvelettes. In the ’80s, Mustafa played with the Duke Ellington orchestra and was employed as a sideman by Jaco Pastorius, James Williams, Bobby Watson, and John Hicks. He then joined the Count Basie orchestra in 1984 and stayed with that band for eight years before launching his own band and recording highly acclaimed solo projects. 

For the past few years, Mustafa has continued to write, mentor fellow musicians, and develop new projects while bravely battling a cancer diagnosis. He also continues to spearhead his annual concert series, the Melton Mustafa Jazz Festival, which attracts top talent and showcases young jazz musicians each year in South Florida.


  • Mustafa’s beginnings as a musician and how early success affects your perspective.
  • Why studying in college doesn’t always impact musical ability
  • Why mentorship is so important and how healthy competition can drive you to improve
  • Why artists must fuel their own passion to create
  • Why artists must hold themselves accountable for the messages they put out into the world

Quotables from the interview

  • I didn’t care about fame…I just wanted to play music. 
  • If you don’t have something that you value, appreciate, something that you strive for, you’re not going to have the passion. 
  • Every culture in the world has a way of expressing themselves according to the scales or modes that they operate from.
  • The average person just listens to music, and they enjoy it, while they are being subliminally seduced.  
  • That’s the most important message you can put on the beats – the message that Almighty God wants the people to know. That’s what keeps me going.
  • Your words will define your world.

Respond and Comment: 

How would you define your purpose as an artist? What do you want people to feel / know / understand after hearing or experiencing your art?

Comment below in the show notes, or post your response on our Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram pages.

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Patreon Links:

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Theme Music:

  • Performed by Teja Veal, from “The Hopeless Romantic EP”


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