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A Little History About Leon
Folk-Blues Guitarist Josh White first inspired Leon. At age three Leon’s father took him to the Apollo Theater in New York City. A Light went on in Leon and still shines bright today. Leon’s love for the Guitar has guided his path through life.
At eight he began to study the guitar at the Henry Street Settlement on the lower east side in New York. His first teacher was Mark Oalth, who taught him folk guitar. Later that year Leon won the Arthur Godfrey Talent Scouts, and got to perform with the world famous McGuire Sisters.
Albert Valdes Blain from Cuba, taught Leon Classical Guitar from age 12-18. Leon attended the High School of Performing Arts (the Television show Fame was modeled after this High School.) Leon met and performed with Langston Hughes the famous poet. Still in the High School of Performing Arts, he performed 4-5 nights a week in Greenwich Village in coffee houses. Leon’s passion for the Guitar led him to Maestro Andres Segovia in Spain. The first time that he played for the Maestro, Segovia said, “It is easy to see that you love what you do Muy Bonita.”
Upon returning from Spain, Leon became Chairperson of the Guitar Department at Jersey City State College, and taught Classical Guitar in the extension division of Manhattan School of Music. Leon Atkinson Guitarist had his Debut at Town Hall New York City 1974. The following year he played Carnegie Hall. Leon also played Broadway Shows: Promises Promises, See Saw, Hurry Harry, and A Chorus Line. He was solo Guitarist with the Alvin Ailey Ballet, performed in the Mary Lou Williams Jazz Mass Ballet on stage and on record.
After moving out west, Leon started the Classical Guitar Guild. He has performed with the Spokane Symphony, he started Guitar Departments at Whitworth College, Spokane Falls Community College and North Idaho College. He presently heads the Guitar Department at Gonzaga University.
Leon travels the world doing Concerts and Master Classes. The Lightand his Love for Guitar, stills shines bright.