antonio underwood
March 19, 2024, 3:11 a.m.

Unveiling the Musical Odyssey of Antonio Underwood: A Maestro's Journey

Embark on a captivating journey through the remarkable life and groundbreaking career of Antonio Underwood, a visionary force reshaping the music landscape. From his humble beginnings in New Canton, Virginia, to becoming a trailblazing figure in the world of music composition and production, Underwood's story is one of resilience, creativity, and relentless pursuit of excellence.

In this exclusive interview article, discover the extraordinary trajectory of a prodigious talent whose passion for music ignited at a young age. Follow his odyssey from playing varsity sports to honing his musical prowess at esteemed institutions like Yale School of Music and the University of Southern California. Through anecdotes and insights, delve into Underwood's collaborations with iconic figures like McCoy Tyner, Max Roach, and George Lucas (Scholarship), and his pioneering efforts in redefining the role of the tuba in contemporary music.

Uncover the secrets behind Underwood's award-winning production company, Tone East Music LLC, and its groundbreaking approach to showcasing the tuba's versatility and allure. Gain valuable insights into his innovative strategies for navigating the competitive music market, fostering effective teamwork, and fostering a culture of creativity and excellence.

Join us as we explore Underwood's vision for the future, from expanding educational outreach programs to revolutionising the audiovisual experience through cutting-edge technology. Discover the principles and philosophies that drive his quest for innovation and success, and glean invaluable advice for aspiring startups seeking to carve their path in the dynamic world of music production.

Prepare to be inspired, enlightened, and enthralled as we embark on this enlightening journey with Antonio Underwood—a true maestro of music innovation. Welcome to an interview that promises to leave you inspired and enlightened, ready to embrace the limitless possibilities of creativity and innovation in music.

Early Life and Education

I was born in Charlottesville, Virginia, and registered at the University of Virginia; Registered 4 years later than my birth date. It is because of my family - I lived in New Canton, Virginia. No one ever speaks about it, but my mom would say, “You’ll understand it better by and by…” The first few years of my life were there, mom teaching in a small school in Bremo Bluff, right across the James River and my father teaching Biology in Prince Fredrick, Maryland. We moved to Englewood, New Jersey, with one room in another family's home. I was around 3 years old then.  I started taking formal music lessons at 7 years of age. Drum lesson until the tuba at around 12 years old. Graduated from Dwight Morrow High School, playing Varsity Basketball and Baseball. Winning All-Region and All-State playing the tuba….moving on to North Carolina Agricultural and Technical land-grant State University, a Historically Black University in Greensboro, North Carolina. Moving back north to study with Dr. David A. Uber at Trenton State College (College of New Jersey). Featured at the New York Brass Conference for 2 years and started my professional career at 19 years old. Playing with Pulitzer Composer Henry Theadgill at 20 years of age. I think about 7 years on and off.

I was recently appointed as the 1st Yale School of Music Delegate to the Alumni Assembly (2021 -2024). Upon graduating from Yale School of Music I received the alumni award for “Outstanding Contribution to the Yale Environment” (One of the 1st African American recipients), the “Yale Cultural Award of Merit”, Francis Louis Kirchoff Tapp Scholarship Award, the National Endowment for the Arts Scholarship Award, the New York Philharmonic Fellowship to Aspen Music Festival | New York Philharmonic and Aspen Music Festival Award.

After that, I began touring with The McCoy Tyner two-time Grammy Award Winning All-Star Big Band (20-year member), Composer Henry Threadgill’s Ensembles,  with the theatre production of “Juan Darien- A Carnival Mass” by first female Tony Award recipient director Julie Taymor, director of The Lion King and Academy Award-winning composer Elliot Goldenthal (Frida), and as a featured soloist with the legendary Max Roach and the So What Brass Quintet.

All very good friends of mine encouraged my pursuit of composition and my Recording Label. George Lucas (Star Wars) got wind of my composing skills. He provided me with the FIRST scholarship to study Scoring for Motion Pictures and Television at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. There, I had the privilege of being the first African-American to study in the program with the most outstanding composers in the field of screenwriting, such as Dr. Norman ‘Buddy’ Baker, Elmer Bernstein, and David Raksin. Dr. Baker was the catalyst, bringing Tony, the 1st African American, to the program. 

Since then, I’ve orchestrated for 2005 Grammy Song of the Year Writer, Emmanuel Seal (writer for Mariah Carey, Usher, Alicia Keys, Janet Jackson, and others), The World Saxophone Quartet, BeBe Winans (Gospel legend), Regis Branson, Terry Dexter, and others. My work can be heard on worldwide distributed labels such as Pony Canyon (Japan), Verve, Atlantic, Warner Bros. A&M, Filmakers Library, Horizon Entertainment (First Look), and others. Before, all the energy went towards Tone East Music LLC. 

Market Presence and Strategies

The Tuba being the lead and pivotal voice, we’ve played an important role in shaping the Radio Airplay(Jango Radio) platform.

In 1994, Tone-East Music, LLC became a production company in Englewood, New Jersey. It was created when I was asked to compose, write, and produce five pieces for the Pony Canyon Records (Japan) debut CD, Trent Song, by noted Jazz Saxello performer John Purcell. I composed, produced, and performed keyboards and vocals for the project. He featured such notables as vocalist Lisa Fischer (who has sung with icons such as Luther Vandross, Tina Turner, and The Rolling Stones), Katreese Barnes (“Oh Sit” composer/music director), premiere bassist Anthony Jackson (Inventor of the “Six-String Electric Bass), and premiere drummer Steven Jordan (producer/drummer for Keith Richards, Eric Clapton, and John Mayer).

“Trent Song is a Jazz album released in Japan in 1994 for Pony Canyon Records. The album was the debut CD for the production company Tone-East Music which was created by producer, writer, and arranger Antonio (Tony) D. IUnderwood” (

“After many years as a “sideman” of many famous people in the field of jazz, popular, and theatre. Antonio Underwood came up with two recordings (CDs “Tuba Mirum” / “They Call Him Antonio”) that turned the tuba into the ‘guide’ voice. The compositions and arrangements enhance the unique sound of the tuba… Music2Link (Brazil -2010)

Tone East Music LLC is known for presenting the Tuba and its unique sound through specialised compositions and arrangements. We have a proven track record of excellence with notable achievements such as winning a Grammy Award and an Obie Award. We have successfully captured the attention and adoration of a significant fan base with our 40+ songs with pop scores streaming worldwide on Radio Airplay (Jango). Our listeners consistently appreciate and praise the tuba's warmth, sensitivity, and mood-boosting effects in solo voice.

Future Growth and Expansion Plans

Tone East Music LLC has a vision to create a new paradigm of thought among young people to help promote self-awareness, emotional expression, confidence, and communal responsibility and respect. Our vision is a world where people can have access to the concepts that motivate and inspire us the most and allow each individual to reach their maximum potential.

Contemporary music with modern visual and texting concepts, in a compelling format compatible with today’s media formats and personal electronic devices. "Music meets video meets situation video TV". Creating new visual art media combining traditional, classical, and contemporary music with modern visual concepts in a compelling format compatible with today’s media formats and personal electronic devices played anywhere, anytime as needed to meet the needs of the human emotional experience. A visual essence of different points of view where it is easy for all to find themselves.

How has the year been for your company?

It has been challenging these past four or five years of the Pandemic. We are very lean in staff, so we can always bring products to the public. It is when royalties are distributed and collected properly that we prosper. This has been the issue.

Unique Selling Proposition and Competitive Advantage

Our Advantages stem from the appeal to a "crossover" market, as our specialty. Our next CD in production, “A Tuba Story”, has selections and genres our radio station has proven to draw a popular and varied demographic, gender, and age-wise listener. Though we are not mentioned on the internet as the most well-known label, by fanbase, our advantages are our dedication to the art and development of unique and original material for young tubists to aspire to in development and upbringing. We perform styles that are the modern era popular movement without moral question. This has to do with the diversity of styles we play on tuba and the amount of real sincerity in expressions that connect directly with the modern era and crossover popular contemporary listeners. 

The unique selling point (USP) is what makes our product and service competitive. Tone East Music LLC is known for presenting the Tuba and its unique sound through specialised compositions and arrangements. We have a proven track record of excellence, with notable achievements such as winning a Grammy Award and an Obie Award. We have successfully captured the attention and adoration of a significant fan base with our 40+ songs with pop scores streaming worldwide on Radio Airplay (Jango). Our listeners consistently appreciate and praise the tuba's warmth, sensitivity, and mood-boosting effects in solo voice. Our previous productions have been self-funded, but we are now seeking partnerships to continue our creative journey. Our music has been distributed through major platforms and gained exposure on iHeartRadio and Pandora. By combining our ability to evoke emotions through the tuba's unique sound, we can create an unparalleled audiovisual experience. Distributed worldwide by

● The most productive tuba recording product in history with 18 CDs.
● Most recordings stream worldwide 24 hours/a day.
● Created a popular movement with a sound like no one else.

Effective Teamwork

Building Effective Teamwork and Unity

● Support - Trust - Encouragement = MOTIVATION
●MOTIVATION = Drive - Positive Team Reinforcement = ACTION
● ACTION = Potential Excellence

Focus on Research and Innovation

Our focus is reaching young people both through consumer products and educational outreach.

In 1995, we, at Tone East Music, LLC began research into modern equipment to generate the MIDI (musical instrument digital interface) and audio files with state-of-the-art music software. {There are so many other platforms we look to purchase and incorporate in our productions with video and film, mixing, and mastering capability} Enhancing our applications and design for the production of music. The software titles are very powerful with virtual instrument modules.  For over 25+ years we have used these concepts with the acoustic tuba as the lead voice.

The performances have MIDI data or messages that can be altered to satisfy the need for a more perfect performance after adjustments are made to the MIDI files. These files interface and have numerical values to each sound component or application, and can be adjusted to, and manipulated for a better performance with each ensemble track. These files are then transferred to audio for further enhancements, such as reverb, compression, chorus, panned placements, and many other alterations and effects. We keep it very simple, but effective! Leaving it to the creative unique idea. The mastering process of post-production is outsourced in Hollywood, California. Tone East Music, LLC  utilises Los Angeles-based engineer, Mr. Jason Abell, for sound balance and optimization of countless recordings with maximum success. “ Meat into a meal…”

Our development of collaborative learning systems, as a Fulbright ambassador to Serbia, is what drives the education concepts and materials used when the opportunity arises to lecture or give assistance privately. The basic learning styles of students and customers within the 10 - 25 - 45 age group are taken into consideration. This concept utilises a combination of Technology and Art in a novel way to develop a nurturing, educationally creative environment that maintains a high standard. 

Tone East Music, LLC's long-term goals are to produce video and film concepts that enhance the educational quality of life for the audience and those involved in the process of these vignettes and features. To build multi-faceted camps that educate and develop young students. To prepare them for the world. Learn more about the Serbia Jazz Festival.

We plan to create themes and programming that better prepare our youth and young adults to develop leadership, a sense of wonder, self-discipline, resourcefulness, civic-mindedness, creativity, leadership, courage, humility, resilience, motivation, reliability, big picture "out-of-the-box" thinking, and persistence to better navigate in this forever changing world.

Advice for Aspiring Startups

Create an original idea and work hard to find your perspective on it. Go through the tunnel without seeing the other side for a while. Then you may find what's new to you… Don’t lose faith!  Many are followers and second and third-hand receivers. We, people, still look for fresh products, attitudes, concepts, and points of view. So, to follow what has been losing value every time is not worth anything in the long run.

In conclusion, the interview with Antonio Underwood offers a glimpse into the remarkable journey of a visionary musician and entrepreneur who has left an indelible mark on the world of music. From his early days mastering the tuba to his groundbreaking achievements in composition and production, Underwood's story is one of passion, perseverance, and innovation.

As we bid farewell to this insightful exploration of Underwood's life and career, we are reminded of the power of creativity, determination, and the relentless pursuit of excellence. His words of wisdom and his unwavering commitment to pushing the boundaries of music leave us inspired and motivated to embrace our creative endeavours with renewed vigor.

We invite you to connect with Antonio Underwood on LinkedIn to stay updated on his latest projects and endeavours. Additionally, we encourage you to visit Tone East Music LLC to explore his portfolio, discover his music, and experience the transformative power of his art firsthand. Tony Underwood - Tone East Music Radio

Thank you for joining us on this journey through the life and work of Antonio Underwood—a true pioneer in the world of music innovation. May his story continue to inspire and resonate with aspiring musicians and entrepreneurs around the globe.

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Recent Comments:

Valerie Johnson
  • March 23, 2024, 6:38 a.m.

Congratulations my friend!

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