New Orleans native Terence Blanchard discovered the trumpet at the age of eight. During his teens, he took classes at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts before attending Rutgers University, in New Jersey. After touring with the Lionel Hampton Orchestra from 1980 to 1982, Blanchard replaced his childhood friend Wynton Marsalis as lead soloist and musical director for Art Blakey's Messengers, leaving in 1986 to front an influential quintet with Donald Harrison. From 1990 on, the artist finally dedicated his time to pursue a fruitful solo career. In 2000, he was named Artistic Director for the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, at the University of Southern California. Choices, his 1st recording on the Concord label, came out in 2009. In 2013, the versatile artist tackled different projects, including his 1st opera, Champion.