Wally West is an award-winning and critically acclaimed musician who embraces a unique and deep-rooted passion for the performance and teaching of music. Wally was born in Greensboro, North Carolina in December 1961. He graduated from Walter Hines Page High School in 1980, and then immediately went on to earn a Bachelor of Music Degree in Saxophone Performance from the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA in 1983. After college, Wally has continued his education out in the real world, as he has performed all across the United States, Europe, Asia and the Caribbean, touring, recording, and performing with such diverse, popular acts as Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Bob Hope, Joe Williams, Lou Rawls, Michael Feinstein, Marvin Hamlisch, The Four Tops, The Temptations, The Spinners, The O'Jays, The Platters, The Drifters, Clay Aiken and Natalie Cole, as well as Arturo Sandoval, Branford Marsalis, Tony Bennett, Mercer Ellington, Herb Ellis, Charlie Byrd, Carl Fontana, Bobby Shew, Ellis Marsalis, John Pizzarelli, Doc Severinsen and numerous other jazz and popular artists. Furthermore, he has also performed across the United States as a member of the USO Jazz Orchestra and the USAirways Jazz Orchestra, performing for presidents Gerald Ford, George H. W. Bush, and Bill Clinton, and countless other entertainment, political and military dignitaries. Wally performs regularly with the Greensboro, Winston-Salem and North Carolina Symphonies for their POPS Concert Series.
Wally has served as musical contractor and recording artist for Kindermusik International for their musical curriculum CDs, which are used worldwide. Wally is also visible on the Motown, Summit, EMI, Rockhouse and New Moon record labels as a recording artist. He has also served on the jazz studies faculty at UNC-Chapel Hill from 2001 to 2004. Wally spent 14 years, from 2000 to 2013, as a member and the executive director of the North Carolina Jazz Repertory Orchestra. He is a co-founding member and Administrative Director of The Piedmont Triad Jazz Orchestra, North Carolina's most exciting and unique big band. Wally is on faculty at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, as Lecturer of Jazz Studies.
In 2001, Wally was featured on the cover and in an article and interview in Saxophone Journal, the leading magazine spotlighting the best saxophone players in the world.
Wally also served as music director and project coordinator for the John Coltrane Jazz Workshop in High Point, NC, sponsored by the High Point Arts Council, from its inception in 2002. He oversaw the growth and popularity of this important workshop for 20 years, through 2021. In 2006, Wally won the Mayor's Award for Teaching Excellence highlighting his gift of working with these young jazz musicians at the Workshop. Wally’s experience in both performance and instruction has him called upon as an adjudicator and clinician for high school and college jazz festivals. Wally also serves on the Board of Advisors at the Guilford Technical Community College School of Entertainment Technology.
Wally's wife Cathy is the Senior Director of Worship and Arts at Christ United Methodist Church in Greensboro, where they are members. Cathy is also a freelance vocalist and is the singer for the Wally West Little Big Band.
Wally and Cathy's 23-year-old son, Aaron, is a 2020 graduate of Appalachian State University with a BA in Music Industry Studies with a concentration in Recording and Production, who is now continuing his education as a Masters Candidate in Jazz Studies and Saxophone at the University of South Florida in Tampa.
Last, but certainly not least, is the family dog - Sonny, a wire-haired dachshund. It's Sonny's world, we just live in it.
Wally and Cathy volunteer their time delivering Meals on Wheels / Mobile Meals to homebound senior citizens.