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Drummer and Atlanta Grammy president 'JFly' inspiring kids to dream

Gracie Bonds Staples, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on

Published in Parenting News

How big is your dream?

Jorel Flynn had just enjoyed one of the biggest nights of his life, touring with R&B singers Kelly Price, Dave Hollister and Glenn Jones, when a voice in his head posed that question.

It was a good one.

Flynn was a 26-year-old from Waycross, where for many African-Americans the path to economic and social mobility, stability and success was fraught with distractions.

From a demographic standpoint, it wasn't the worst place a black kid could grow up, but it didn't offer a lot of opportunity either.

If people dreamed at all, Flynn said, you didn't hear about them.

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Flynn and his seven siblings, though, had grown up with certain advantages others in the neighborhood lacked. He had two highly involved parents, who, in addition to passing on their faith to their children, taught them the importance of hard work, respecting their elders, the principles of sowing and reaping, and the power of prayer. While his father, a church deacon, worked to provide the family with shelter, food and clothing, his mother, an evangelist, made sure he and his seven siblings were busy and as far away from trouble as possible.

From an early age, Flynn played sports and dabbled in music, playing bass guitar, trombone, drums, and a little piano.

When one of his teachers forced him to give up drums to play tuba in middle school, he gave it all up.

"I had a problem with my weight," he recalled recently. "The tuba enhanced my (midsection)."

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