This morning, the latest crop of MacArthur Fellows was announced — the so-called “genius” awards. Sometimes, a MacArthur fellowship is given as a capstone to honor a long, glorious career. But one of this year’s winners, Tyshawn Sorey, is just 37 years old.
Earlier this week, I visited Sorey at his office at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn., where he began teaching this fall. When we met, Sorey was dressed entirely in black, as he usually is. When he plays, he often wears sunglasses — no matter the time of day or night. That’s a stereotypical uniform for a jazz musician. But Sorey seems to wear it because it fits his shy personality.
When we meet, he’s known that he was being given a MacArthur fellowship for nearly a month already, but he says it wasn’t hard to keep it under wraps. “I’m a very private person anyway,” he observes, “so it was it was no problem for me to keep it a secret.”