Jazz: Compostion

By Christopher Yasiejko

What began as a focus on classical shifted to straight-ahead jazz and funk, but the current passion in Fostina Dixon-Kilgoe’s more than 30-year professional career is gospel music spiked with elements of jazz.

“I’ve come to realize that I like traditional jazz, contemporary jazz, and now I’ve incorporated gospel jazz,” she says. “Sometimes I feel like it would be really great if one just pulled me in, but it hasn’t happened. It’s a dilemma because it’s an industry that likes to define your music. And for my next CD, I’m sort of torn.”

In addition to playing saxophone — she once toured with Marvin Gaye — and composing pieces, Dixon-Kilgoe is the music curriculum specialist at Pulaski Elementary School, so her days are spoken for. To find time to practice, she’ll wake early in the morning, or she’ll stay up late into the night. She has a basement studio, where she sometimes will jam with other musicians, but she prefers her home office, a cozy room in which she keeps a keyboard.

Dixon-Kilgoe, “The Fire” 

Dixon-Kilgoe, “Rest”

Dixon-Kilgoe speaks of John Coltrane, long her strongest influence, who sometimes would play a song for as long as an hour. For quite some time, she favored long pieces.

“And then I started being more sensitive to what my audience’s needs are,” she says. “What people need in general is to be inspired. That’s what they come out to get from us. And that’s what I do when I teach.”

In 2003, she started the Wilmington Youth Jazz Band, whose program she aims to inspire children, their parents and the community.

“When people come and hear us,” she says, “I want them to leave with something that inspired them for their lives.”

A conversation with her about her own musical path is likely to include her church.

“I am a praising worshipper,” she says. “I serve in my church [Victory Christian Fellowship in Bear] every week. I play in two services every Sunday. And that has been my driving force. Now I have a church who allows my musicianship to be more free than in previous experiences. And that just really sets me on fire. It motivates me and inspires me. My music comes from God, and now that’s who I acknowledge as being my source. And from there, everything else springs forth.”

At church, she feels no judgment. The competitive nature of the industry melts away.