For all Victor Fields ’75 has accomplished in the music industry it is hard to believe that only a decade ago the talented jazz artist was a full-time businessman. But in fact, after graduating from Bowdoin with a political science degree,Victor made his way to the west coast to try his hand at insurance—and met with success. Although he was musically active during his four years at Bowdoin, hosting a Friday night jazz show on WBOR and singing in a percussion ensemble led by Geoffrey Canada ’74,Victor’s career goals steered him out of the spotlight and into the office, where he was quickly promoted to the position of regional vice president at his San Francisco company. Only after losing his mother to cancer, did Victor recognize the second void in his life: music.
Victor’s transition from businessman to musician took time, but his determination to follow his dreams was immediate, “Years from now I didn’t want to say, ‘What if?’ or ‘I should have.’ If you have dreams, you should pursue them,” he says. Victor began taking voice lessons and sitting in with jazz bands in the San Francisco area before performing regularly for various corporate events. “I was like the musician’s businessman,”Victor says of the role reversal that saw him negotiating contracts with corporations his former clients referred him to, “I was basically moonlighting as a musician.”
Victor recorded his first album in 1998 alongside Grammy-nominated producersongwriter Kashif. Ironically,Victor’s freshman roommate, Eric Meza, was responsible for introducing the two musicians and turning Victor into an overnight recording artist. Over the past decade Victor has worked with some of the biggest names in music, collaborating with guitarist Chris Camozzi on his second CD, which landed on Billboard’s jazz album chart.Victor, who says his major influences are classic artists such as Sam Cooke, Marvin Gaye, and Joe Williams, has even gotten a chance to sing Gaye’s famous hit “What’s Going On” on his fourth album, Thinking of You. “I’ve had a chance to be involved with some really great artists,” says Victor “and the music has taken me to a lot of great places.”
Harry Belafonte, the man behind the “Banana Boat” song, equally well-known for his political and social activism, has become a role model for Victor.“Mr. Belafonte told me that an artist is also an activist.With any type of celebrity you have to use it wisely.”Victor has played countless benefit concerts supporting issues such as African American health. He recently performed at the Urban Peace Awards in Los Angeles for a crowd that included two rival Los Angeles gangs. The purpose of the concert was to encourage a truce between the notoriously violent groups and recognize the peace-keeping efforts of social activists and law enforcement. At the end of the show a city-wide peace treaty was signed.
These days,Victor has a lot to look forward to. He recently signed a licensing deal in Japan and plans on taking his wife Regina ’74 to Europe for a few months while he works abroad. But perhaps even more exciting for this Bowdoin grad is his upcoming New York City debut at the Sugar Bar, where he will reconnect with college classmates he hasn’t seen in years. “I’m almost more excited about seeing them than the show itself,” he says with a laugh.Visit www.victorfields.com for information on upcoming shows.
Posted February 01, 2007