Courtney Pine: ‘My music teacher said Black people like me shouldn’t go to university’

The jazz musician on his brush with death and an unfortunate trouser malfunction at an awards ceremony

Born in London, Courtney Pine, 58, released his first album, Journey to the Urge Within, in 1986. His 1995 album Modern Day Jazz Stories was nominated for the Mercury music prize, and he won best jazz act at the inaugural Mobo awards in 1996. He has received an OBE and a CBE and, in 2021, was honoured with the Jazz FM Gold award. On 12 October he performs music from his forthcoming album, Spirituality, at the Howard Assembly Room as part of the Leeds Out of Many festival, organised by the Jamaica Society Leeds. Courtney has four surviving children and lives with his wife in St Kitts.

When were you happiest?
When I realised that I could be a musician. I was 16.

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