Davey Yarborough; Jazz Maestro Who’s Career Has Impacted The Genre Globally

Born in 1953 in Washington, DC, Davey Yarborough is a multi-talented musician, composer, and educator. He graduated from Coolidge Senior High School in 1971 and went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts in Music Education from the University of the District of Columbia (UDC) and a Master of Music from Howard University School of Music. Yarborough is known for his expertise in playing the flute, clarinet, and saxophone.

Throughout his career, Yarborough has performed with jazz icons such as Billy Eckstine, Lena Horne, and Joe Williams, as well as collaborated with Wynton Marsalis on NPR’s Making the Music series. In 1986, he founded the New Washingtonians jazz orchestra at the Duke Ellington School for the Arts and contributed his saxophone skills to the soundtrack of the NBC sitcom The Cosby Show from 1988 to 1991. In 1998, he co-founded the Washington Jazz Arts Institute to continue his legacy of education and mentorship in the District of Columbia.

Recognized for his contributions to the arts and education, Yarborough has received numerous awards, including the Mayor’s Arts Award, the Whitney M. Young, Jr. Community Service Award, and the DC Emancipation Day Image Award. He has also been honored as Jazz Educator of the Year by the Berklee Conservatory and received accolades from the Grammy Awards and Kennedy Center.

Yarborough’s musical talents have taken him around the globe, including performances at prestigious jazz festivals like San Remo, North Sea, and Montreux. He has recorded solo and collaborative albums, notably with pianist Hilton Felton and harpist Jeff Major. After four decades of service, Yarborough retired from the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in 2019. He is married to Esther Williams and has a daughter, Davie Celeste Yarborough, who is pursuing a Doctoral degree in Educational Psychology at the University of Hawaii.