Pursuing your passion is not an unachievable task; I learned that lesson from a professional drummer. On a cloudy Wednesday in September, I was fortunate to spend a few hours with fellow Bronxite, Anthony Anderson who grew up in Hunts Point and has 18 siblings.
Before this meeting, I’d only seen him perform on social media. Anthony has close to 30,000 followers on Instagram, and from what I could tell, he is not only well-liked, but also well respected.
Our meeting took place on the fifth floor of the Bruckner Building. We found a space on the far right of where the elevators were. It was not aesthetically pleasing by any means. The unutilized room seemed to be under construction. There were off-white walls appeared to be collecting dust. On the side of those walls were wooden slabs. The dark floors beneath us were blemished with cracks and scratches. And because the space was under construction, we were hesitant that one of the workers would kick us out.
But we took our chances and the interview commenced.
“ I lost a lot but I also gained a lot,” he said. He proceeded to walk me through his childhood to where he is today.
Anthony reacted to music at an early age. He recalled banging on pots and pans, pretending it was an instrument. It was not until he was nine years old that he decided to pick up the drums for the first time. Though Anthony did not have a relationship with his father in his formative years, it was his dad, also a drummer, who inspired him to play. As the two began to form a bond through music, his dad passed away within the year.
As the meeting progressed, we spoke about turning his passion into a profession.
“ I had to be real with myself with every decision I made.”
He began to dedicate his time, energy and life to drumming.
In Anthony’s sophomore year in high school, he formed a band. The group would perform in the cafeteria or any area that was available to them. It was through this experience that he gained recognition and was presented with opportunities to go overseas. But he decided to break from the band to become a solo artist.
This choice led to sacrifices.
Relationships with a few family members and friends were strained. He became homeless. And Anthony unsure of what to do next.
“It’s a lot of work to be successful. It takes a lot of patience, time and criticism,” he said.
Anthony chose to be different and he leads a simple life. While most people are sleeping, he is working at a movie theater, sometimes until 3 am. Instead of taking a cab or public transportation, he walks everywhere, never forgetting to bring his drumsticks along. He does this to save every penny for his drumset.
Establishing relationships in the Bronx has helped him prosper and also been the highlight of his career.
“ I can just tell everyone that yeah I’m a boy from the Bronx and I love playing the drums and I love doing what I do because it’s everything to me.”
Our meeting was coming to a close.
“Thinking of the difficulties I’ve faced and knowing what I’ve accomplished so far, I take that as a way of just knowing this is everything to me,” he said.
“ I have to stay focused on the goals, the dream, the realness of what my life is, who I’ve become and who I am and what I can achieve and what I can do to become that person.”
When the interview was over, we gazed at the room once more. Others may say the space was in its “ugly phase.” But to us, it was bright and full of possibilities.
It’s just this beginning for Anthony Anderson.