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Musician Vincent Chancey was born on February 4, 1950 in Chicago, Illinois. In junior high school, Chancey played the cornet, trumpet and flugelhorn. However, after hearing the French horn during rehearsals, he switched to the French horn. While performing with his high school band, Chancey was active with local musical groups like the Giles Yellow Jackets, the St. Andrews Hornets and the Des Plaines Vanguard competitive drum and bugle corps. He went on to attend and receive his B.A. degree from the Southern Illinois University School of Music in 1973.
Upon graduation, Chancey was awarded a National Education Association grant to study under jazz musician Julius Watkins, a renowned French horn player. In 1976, he played professionally for Sun Ra Arkestra, where he worked to incorporate the French horn as a jazz instrument, which he would do throughout the remainder of his career. From 1978 until 1984, Chancey worked with the Carla Bley Band. Then, in 1984, he joined Lester Bowie’s Brass Fantasy, where he was featured on all of the group’s nine recordings. Chancey later worked with Dave Douglas in the 2000’s. He was also a member of the David Murray Big Band, which included him on five of its CDs. Chancey went on to perform with a number of other artists, including Ashford and Simpson, Melba Moore, Peggy Lee, Maxwell, Aretha Franklin, Cassandra Wilson, Freddy Jackson, The Winans, Elvis Costello, Brandy, Charlie Haden Liberation Orchestra, Dave Douglas, and Diana Krall. He also performed with classical groups such as the Brooklyn Philharmonic, the Pan American Symphony, the One World Symphony, the Zephyr Woodwind Quintet, and the Netherlands Opera. In all, Chancey recorded with various artists on more than 300 albums, CDs and soundtracks.
In 1993, Chancey released his first solo album, Welcome Mr. Chancey; and, in 1998, his second album, Next Mode. Later, Chancey released the album LEGenDES Imaginaires. In 2000, he was asked to play the French horn at Pope John Paul II’s eightieth birthday concert at the Vatican.
Vincent Chancey was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on October 22, 2013.