Chris Justilien is no stranger to the music scene. His musical journey began at his father’s church in Pinders Point, Grand Bahama where he played the organ as a child.† At the age of 12, Chris's parents relocated him to Miami where he became very involved in music programs, participating in the Miami Edison High School marching band as a euphonium player, and in the school's orchestra as a violinist.
Chris Justilien featured with the Berklee Caribbean Ensemble
Among his accomplishments, Chris received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Professional Music Studies from the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts where he was the founding director of the Berklee Caribbean Ensemble with noted jazz trombonist Phil Wilson as facilitator.
Since graduation from Berklee in 1991, Chris has been actively involved in his community, church, and other projects geared towards the advancement of young people and the preservation of Bahamian culture through music. One of his most memorable tasks was as band director of the Government High School Marching Band that also had the honor of being featured at Disney World and Universal Studios. Chris along with his brother Yonell are directors of The Bahamas Musical Youth Club, an ongoing training program in band techniques established in 1994. This club relies on donations from the community to purchase instruments and instructional material for the youth in the Bahamas.
Bahamas Musical Youth Club (beginners class)
During his tenure as music director for Roots junkanoo group, Chris produced three junkanoo recordings with the latest one comprising original works.
Chris has been a professional musician since 1979. The first band with which he performed was "Willpower". Chris played trombone and percussion, and also functioned as the group’s music director and stayed with them until 1984 when he formed his own band, "Entree". Entree performed at Captain Nemos until Chris decided to pursue a college education in 1987.
Photos from left to right: Willpower (1979-1984), Entree (1984-1987), Ambasah (1991-present)
Chris is the band-leader of Ambasah Jazz/Caribbean band, which he started after graduating from Berklee College of Music in 1991, 2nd violinist with “Strings ‘n’ Tings” string trio, founding member of COLOURS junkanoo organization, which made their debut appearances in December 2001 and also represented The Bahamas in Jamaica for a travel show and at The Goombay Festival in Coconut Grove, Florida.
Chris is presently a Music Lecturer at The College of The Bahamas, and also the composer of the College's Alma Mater.
This project is the culmination of a Master’s program in instrumental music at the VanderCook College of Music in Chicago, Illinois. It is the hope of the author that the information contained herein makes a valuable contribution to music education not only in the Bahamas, but globally. If there is any additional information that you wish to share in order to enhance this project, your comments and contributions will be greatly appreciated.
Chris blows the conch shell at junkanoo
P.O. Box N-4273