Howard University’s Langston Hughes II shines in Strathmore resident program

WTOP's Jason Fraley salutes Langston Hughes II (Part 1)

This article is the first in a two-part series on the Strathmore program. Read our conversation with 2007 Artist In Residence alum Christylez Bacon here.

Strathmore’s “Artists in Residence” program exists to launch talented local musicians.

That includes Maryland native and Howard University student Langston Hughes II.

“The program is an opportunity for early-to-mid-career artists,” Hughes told WTOP. “They connect you with professionals, they give you an opportunity to have some pretty cool shows at Strathmore, and they teach you all the ins and outs of the music industry, things you won’t really learn in school … how to file your taxes, connecting with the audience.”

For the record, he’s not related to Harlem Renaissance legend Langston Hughes.

“I personally wasn’t directly named after him,” Hughes said. “I was named after my dad, who I believe was named after him. So although I’m not directly [related], I do believe there is some kind of connection with him being an artist communicating through poetry and through spoken word, and I think I do the same thing but through music.”

Hughes grew up in Prince George’s County, first in Capitol Heights, then in Bowie.

“I’ve loved music forever,” Hughes said. “It’s a way of communication not only with other people but really for myself. In elementary school I was given the chance to actually play a physical instrument. I picked the saxophone. … Ever since it’s been a journey every day.”

While studying the saxophone at Howard University, he applied for the “Artists in Residence” program at Strathmore and was selected as one of six young creatives.

This year’s class includes jazz pianist James Fernando, flutist/vocalist Alex Hamburger, singer/songwriter Taisha Estrada, tap-dancer Gerson Lanza and cellist Titilayo Ayangade.

“First we met each other and talked and had this jam session just to understand how we all play,” Hughes said. “Getting a chance to not just meet these guys but to play with them … has been a great experience for me. … I couldn’t trade it for anything.”

You can see Hughes perform live at Strathmore on Feb. 9, 16 and 23.

“I’m going to use it as a chance to premiere a couple new tunes that I haven’t played in person,” Hughes said. “These are songs that I composed during the COVID pandemic when we were isolated for a super long time. I’ll premiere those tunes and play some others, thinking about a mix between straight-ahead jazz to more contemporary things.”

If you are a talented young artist yourself, you can apply online by the Feb. 1 deadline.

WTOP's Jason Fraley salutes Langston Hughes II (Part 2)

Listen to our full conversation here.

Jason Fraley

Hailed by The Washington Post for “his savantlike ability to name every Best Picture winner in history," Jason Fraley began at WTOP as Morning Drive Writer in 2008, film critic in 2011 and Entertainment Editor in 2014, providing daily arts coverage on-air and online.

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up