We Are APS: Devon Gates

Academics and music are two of Devon Gates‘ biggest passions in life. A jazz bassist and vocalist, the North Atlanta High School senior is headed to Harvard University in the fall, where she will enroll in a dual degree program with the Berklee College of Music.

“I’m very lucky to have been able to find a home in a lot of different communities that might not necessarily link up – most notably academics and music,” said Devon, who is a member of North Atlanta’s jazz band and the Georgia State University’s Rialto Jazz Youth Orchestra.

Devon is well on her way to doing just that. She currently plays in a few rock, blues and jazz fusion groups around town, and in her spare time, performs as part of the Atlanta Blues Society. She’s been featured at the International Blues Competition in Memphis, Tennessee, and other local venues like the Atlanta Dogwood Festival, Blind Willie’s, Darwin’s Blues Club, Center Stage, and the Buckhead Theatre.

“Joining the jazz band solidified that I enjoyed being an instrumentalist just as much as I enjoy being a vocalist, and that I’d want to pursue both professionally,” said Devon, who began singing at age 4 and playing the bass as a seventh grader at Sutton Middle School.

Devon will soon begin a new journey on May 24, when she walks across the stage as a proud APS graduate. Graduating No. 15 in her class with a 4.0 GPA, she plans to study social sciences at Harvard, followed by a master’s degree in music from Berklee. She is considering a career in musical theater composition, with hopes of creating more diversity in musical theater.

“It’s really important to me to have more of a meaningful musical education,” Devon said of her decision to pursue the dual degree program at Harvard. “I want to get a degree from a highly ranked conservatory, in addition to having the incredible academic education that Harvard offers.”

While at Harvard, Devon looks forward to learning from her renowned Grammy Award-winning jazz bassist and vocalist Esperanza Spalding, as well as jazz drummer Terri Lyne Carrington, who is founder and artistic director of the Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice.

All of it is music to her ears.

“I don’t think I could have envisioned anything that I’m about to do right now … not even a year ago, when I was deciding to audition to colleges for music and thinking that I could get into colleges for music.” Devon said. “It’s like I’m stepping into my destiny, and meeting people along the way inspired and showed me that being a professional musician isn’t such a crazy idea.”

College/UniversityHarvard University
Intended MajorSocial sciences
Career GoalMusical Theater Composition
Awards/RecognitionYoungArts Foundation,
Honorable Mention in Jazz Voice; All-State Chorus; Actress and pit musician in annual North Atlanta High School musical; member of the North Atlanta Varsity Quiz Bowl team; music director of the North Atlanta High School-Sutton Middle School musical partnership.

Atlanta Public Schools will host high school commencement exercises Saturday, May 18 – Friday, May 24, 2019. All ceremonies — except Atlanta Classical Academy and Charles R. Drew Charter School — will be held at Georgia Institute of Technology, McCamish Pavilion,965 Fowler Street, NW, Atlanta, GA 30318. For more information on commencement exercises, go to www.atlantapublicschools.us/gradnation.

We Are APS highlights APS visionaries (parents, students, teachers, principals, support staff, community members, partners, etc.), who exemplify our vision of a high-performing school district where students love to learn, educators inspire, families engage, and the community trusts the system. To recommend an APS visionary for a We Are APS feature, contact your communications liaison or email apscommunicationsoffice@gmail.com.

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