South Charlotte

'A passion and love for music'

Lonnie Davis is as talented as she is beautiful.

Born in Lansthul, Germany, Davis moved to New Orleans with her mother and older sister when she was 2.

"My father was in the military. He was killed in an accident on the German autobahn (highway), so we returned to the states," said Davis.

She grew up in the multicultural city known as the "birthplace of jazz." Davis' love for music came naturally. Her uncle is the great jazz trumpet player, Kid Sheik Cola, and her birth father was a guitarist. (Davis' mother remarried, and Davis also has a younger sister.)

"I began playing the violin at 8," Davis said, "but it wasn't long before I went to the flute.

"I have always had a passion and love for music."

Davis attended the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, where she focused her studies on jazz. Well known graduates of NOCCA include brothers Wynton and Branford Marsalis, Harry Connick Jr. and Terence Blanchard. "The center had great teachers, and the other students were as focused on their love of the arts as I was," Davis said.

She continued her studies at the University of New Orleans, where she met her husband, Ocie. An internationally recognized jazz percussionist, composer and educator, Ocie performs with well-known jazz musicians worldwide.

Five months pregnant with their second daughter when Hurricane Katrina hit, the Davis family moved to Virginia, where Davis completed graduate school. They relocated to Charlotte's Steele Creek area five years ago.

Davis teaches private flute lessons, performs with the Lonnie Davis Group and is the executive director of the Jazz Arts Initiative of Charlotte. Ocie is the artistic director.

"The JAI is a nonprofit, promoting quality music education and performance opportunities for musicians and their supporters. We currently have 22 groups, both professional and amateur school groups," Davis said.

Daughter Ishan, 13, plays tennis and piano; Aamori, 5, plays the keyboard, drums and flute. The girls attend Waddell Language Academy, where they study French.

The website for the Jazz Arts Initiative is www.thejazzarts.org.

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