About Us

Hazel McKinley

Hazel began their musical journey at the age of five, when they began taking

classical piano lessons in their hometown of Hillsborough, North Carolina. They quickly

picked up technique and theory knowledge as they began to excel in the early stages of

learning. After 5 years of lessons, Hazel began to learn on their own, using the foundation

of their knowledge to expand through natural curiosity and application of fundamentals.

Through middle and high school, they expanded their breadth of knowledge to

include guitar, bass, drumset, and classical percussion. Hazel continued through high

school, being awarded the John Phillip Sousa Award for Exceptional Achievement two

years in a row, and the Louis Armstrong Jazz Award in their final year.

Hazel continued with this newfound passion for jazz by continuing their

education as a Jazz Studies major at UNC Charlotte, studying under Dr. Will Campbell,

as part of the MJR Jazz Scholars scholarship program. In their first two years of school,

they performed with multiple ensembles and performed three self-composed pieces

with the jazz combo. In Hazel’s second year, they received an award for outstanding

achievement, and they are currently continuing their education to graduate in 2022.

Hazel currently resides in Charlotte, teaching, composing, and performing with

their band and other notable musicians such as Ron Brendle, Troy Conn, Rick Dior, and

Kenya Templeton, among others.