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ADA – World renowned musician John Daversa will take the stage Thursday, March 10, at 7:30 p.m. at East Central University’s Ataloa Theatre. The former Adan’s performance will also officially celebrate the 10th anniversary of Hallie Brown Ford Fine Arts Center.

Daversa returns to Ada after many years to share his passion for music and education.

“I’m so, so honored to get to come home and perform with and for everyone,” Daversa said.

Daversa is a distinguished trumpet-player, composer, arranger, producer, bandleader and educator. He is a multiple Grammy Award winner and nominee and the recipient of many other awards and honors. He has performed and recorded with many artists, from Glen Campbell to Dr. Dre. He is currently professor and chair of Studio Music and Jazz at the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music.

Daversa was born in Los Angeles, and has lived in such places as Las Vegas,  Sacramento, Miami, and toured Europe for three years.

But it all started in Ada, Oklahoma, for him.

“My dad [Jay Daversa] was a trumpet player, too, and played in all the films and TV shows in Los Angeles and I think he got to a point he had enough of the big city living,” Daversa said. “My parents decided to move back to where my mom was from –Ada– and they just kind of started over when I was seven. I got to meet my grandparents and another side of the family.”

Daversa’s grandfather was Austin Kidwell, who taught band and coached football at Ada High School and Ada Middle School. His mom, Mary Ann Daversa, also taught choir at Ada schools.  

Growing up in a musical household, it was only a matter of time before Daversa picked up the trumpet at 11 years old, while still living in Ada.

David Vandewalker was his middle school band director and Bronson Warren directed the high school band.

“I have so much love and gratitude for Ada,” Daversa said. “Ada really shaped the young person in me. That’s where I started playing the trumpet, had the chance to explore musical theatre and that’s where I got to play in my first jazz band. It set me on the path I’m on today.”

When Daversa was 14, his family returned to California. There, he attended Hamilton Academy of Music for his final two years of high school and reconnected with a lifelong friend, Justin Morell. They formed The D.a.M. Band (Daverso and Morell) while in high school. The two recently worked together on a project, “All Without Words: Variations Inspired by Loren,” Loren being Morell’s non-verbal son.

“There’s a love, passion and excitement for how music fills me up since the earliest days I can remember,” Daversa said. “The first thing that’s in my head in the morning is music and the last thing in my head and heart at night is music.”

Teaching is also a passion.

“I love the exchange between teacher and student and helping people find their own voice,” he said. “I also learn from the student and the music they are working on. I wanted to teach in higher education with students that were really serious about what they wanted to do with music, and I knew I had something to offer.”

After touring for three years in Europe, he returned to Los Angeles with a goal to teach in higher education, and he completed his undergrad degree then earned his masters and doctorate with this in mind.

“Music is definitely the thing that brings me the most joy. At a certain point, I had to acknowledge that if I pursued anything else, I wouldn’t be happy,” he said. “I’ve been very fortunate to be able to create the music that I want to make and it becomes more and more fun.”

Daversa looks forward to returning to Ada.

“It’s really cool. I’m bringing a couple band members from L.A. and a couple band members are flying up from Miami, so the two worlds I’m from are coming to this world in Ada that I’m from, too. It’s bringing all my worlds together,” he said.

“We used to live in the Fleet House, there around 17th and Francis. I used to ride my bike – it seemed so far away when I was 10 years old – to the college. I’d go ride around and come back, and now we get to play over there.”

Daversa will get a chance to work with ECU students and high school students in a masters class Wednesday, March 9. Contact Fine Arts Center Director Brad Jessop for more information at or 580-559-5353.

Tickets to Daversa’s concert at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 10, are only $5 with ECU students getting free admission. Purchase tickets at, email, or call 580-559-5751.

A grant from the Masonic Trust supports the event, along with the 2021-22 Fine Arts Season sponsors:  Communication Federal Credit Union, Citizens Bank, Oklahoma Arts Council, Vision Bank, SCORE Broadcasting, The Ada News, Santa Fe Steakhouse and La Quinta Inn.

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