Albert Newberry earns Herb Alpert award
Herb Alpert was popular years before Albert Newberry was born. Yet the
singer-trumpeter and the 13-year-old part-time Bland resident share a
Newberry is one of 30 young musicians worldwide to receive this year’s
Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composer Award. At 13, he is one of the six
recipients under the age of 18.
Established in 2002 by the American Society of Composers, Authors and
Publishers Foundation, the award was created to encourage jazz composers
under the age of 30. It is given to musicians selected through a juried
national competition and includes a cash prize.
The Herb Alpert Foundation was established in the early 1980s. It makes
annual contributions to a range of programs in the fields of arts, arts
education and compassion and well-being.
Newberry won the award on a piano piece he composed called “Tritone
Blues.” He was required to write the score and record the song for the
judges to consider.
His dad, Randy Newberry, noted Albert’s love of music began at age eight
when his mother, Kristina Newberry, signed him up for beginners’ piano
lessons. After two years, he said, Albert began composing his own music.
A student at North Cross School in Roanoke, he takes music lessons there
and studies classical piano at the Renaissance Music Academy in
Blacksburg with teacher/mentor Teresa Ehrlich. Newberry also takes jazz
lessons with Cyrus Pace at the Jefferson Center in Roanoke and studies
music theory with Hollins University Professor Barbara Mackin.
Newberry also plays the xylophone, chimes and bells.
In an email, he credited Ehrlich and Mackin with helping him meet the
deadline for the contest. Mackin assisted him with putting the score on
paper and his dad recorded it for him, according to him.
“We barely made it to the post office before closing time on the last
day to be eligible,” Newberry said. “I didn’t think I had a chance since
I was competing against grown-ups but I thought it would be a good
experience. I was really surprised when we found out I was one of the
A career in music is Newberry’s goal. It could be as a songwriter or a
“We are encouraging him to have a backup plan,” his dad noted. “There
are a lot of starving musicians and writers out there.”
The Newberrys divide their time between Bland and Roanoke since Kristina
Newberry teaches at Virginia Military Institute in Lexington.