This year’s Oscars feature a Baltimore connection.
Dontae Winslow, a 1992 graduate of Baltimore School for the Arts, will be lead orchestrator, conductor, composer and arranger for the awards ceremony, which airs Sunday on ABC.
Winslow, who also composes music for film and theatrical productions, previously worked on three Super Bowls and toured with Jill Scott and Justin Timberlake. He called the Oscars appearance “the beginning of my career as a world-renowned film music composer.”
The awards are presented in Los Angeles at the Dolby Theatre by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to honor the best films released between March 1 and December 31, 2021.
Winslow, a Baltimore native, moved to California in 2003 after a decade as a working musician in Charm City, according to The Baltimore Sun archives.
He studied at Cross Country Elementary and Fallstaff Middle schools. An early introduction to the trumpet helped him navigate a difficult childhood growing up in the city’s Coppin Heights neighborhood. Music became an escape.
“Growing up as a kid in Baltimore, I’ve seen family members doing drugs, I’ve seen hopelessness,” Winslow said, according to a release from Baltimore City Public Schools. “To have a musical instrument, it can be the one thing you hold on to inspire you to get to school.”
While attending high school at the Baltimore School for the Arts, he met the jazz trumpeter Roy Hargrove, who became a mentor.
Winslow also received a bachelor’s degree and then a master’s in European classical music performance from the Peabody Conservatory. He later became a music teacher at Gilmor Elementary.
According to the release, Winslow offered the following words to Charm City students: “Never ever give up on your dreams. Persist, have tenacity, and compassion for everyone around them... You don’t think when you’re catching your blessings that it will pay off later. Be patient.”