Indianapolis saxophonist Cecily Terhune dives headfirst into an exploration of heroism on her genre-defying debut album BOON BESTOWED. Harnessing the principles laid out in Joseph Campbell’s seminal theory of mythology, Terhune creates a captivating, musical microcosm in which the listener is invited to take center stage as the audacious protagonist.

Today, Cecily is our featured artist in the “Inside Story,” a blog series exploring the inner workings and personalities of our composers and performers. Read on to hear anecdotes from her two most impactful mentors and the story of her first live performance…

What have been your biggest inspirations on your musical journey? 

As with most musicians, I’ve been inspired by so many different people and things. My first musical inspirations were the artists my parents introduced me to: The Beatles, Cream, Led Zeppelin, Yes, B.B. King, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Buddy Holly, Janis Joplin, and many more. Both of my parents have been inspirations musically. My mom has a keen ear for expert musicianship and always had music playing on the radio and my dad showed me the power of live music as a gigging bass guitarist with his band, “The Fabulous Imports.”

Besides exposure to music from an early age, I’ve been fortunate enough to have the guidance of driven, hard-working, creative people who have shown me that perseverance can pay off when coupled with passion. I possess an unshakeable determination born from witnessing the accomplishments of my family members, friends, and mentors. This is true inspiration.

Tell us about your first performance.

My first performance on a sizable stage was with my father’s rock band on Main Street in Zionsville IN at the annual Zionsville street fair. I was probably 12 years old. Along with one of my best friends, trumpeter Kelvin Dieser, I performed Soul Man and Knock on Wood in front of hundreds of people. The best part of the whole experience was getting to be on stage with my dad and getting to see his face as I performed.

What emotions do you hope listeners will experience after hearing your work?

BOON BESTOWED is an album filled with colorful music meant to elicit wonder and imagination from the listener. If they leave feeling inspired having experienced several different emotions throughout this hour-long musical epic, I will feel satisfied.

What were your first musical experiences? 

My first exposure to music was from my parents in my crib as an infant. Apparently, my favorite song was the Beatles’ Here Comes the Sun.

If you weren’t a musician, what would you be doing?

It is very difficult for me to imagine a life as anything other than a musician. I feel guilty and nervous if I haven’t practiced my instrument recently! I am deeply involved in this lifestyle. However, if I were not a musician, I would probably be a PR representative. 

What musical mentor had the greatest impact on your artistic journey? Is there any wisdom they’ve imparted onto you that still resonates today? 

My two most impactful mentors are Laura Haines and Mark Buselli. Laura Haines was my private saxophone instructor throughout middle school and high school and even summers during my undergrad. She taught me some of the most fundamental and important aspects of musicianship. I owe much of my early training and passion for the saxophone to her. Several lessons she taught me resonate today and I often think of her when I am teaching my students. I often remind myself and my students of one of her most basic lessons about the shape of the back of the mouth and throat in order to achieve a warm tone.

My other musical mentor is jazz trumpeter Mark Buselli. Mark is an inspiration to me in the way he approaches life, practicing, and the music business. He is always there to coach me through a tough decision, teach me a new improvisation technique, or share a pot of coffee. I have had many other mentors in my life and I value them all, but I would like to thank these two in particular.

  • Cecily Terhune

    Described as “spirited and intellectual,” Indianapolis-based musician Cecily Terhune enjoys a rewarding career as a performer, recording artist, and educator. She concertizes regularly as a soloist and proud member of funk-fusion septet Audiodacity and the Hood/Terhune Duo, among other groups. When not on stage, Terhune shares her passion for music by teaching private students and sectionals at Carmel and Noblesville High Schools, serving as a member of the Committee for Gender Equity in the North American Saxophone Alliance, and maintaining her educational YouTube channel.