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Jacksonville high school musician playing his way to the national stage

Douglas Anderson High School senior Maurice Chakour was selected to play with the National Youth Jazz Orchestra.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — It's one of the highest honors for a high school musician. Jacksonville's Maurice Chakour was one of just 20 high schoolers from around the country to be selected to play in the National Youth Jazz Orchestra in New York City.

Maurice Chakour has been playing the guitar since he was 6 years old.

"That's when I started learning how to improvise, learning how music works and I just fell in love," said Chakour, now 17 years old.

This summer his love for music led the Douglas Anderson senior to play with the National Youth Jazz Orchestra at Carnegie Hall in New York City. After his residency with NYO he and the rest of the ensemble went on a 2-week long tour across the country.

"It's really inspiring to watch people who are so talented, everyday do what they do," said Chakour, "that's what pushed me to be my best self."

Chakour estimates that he plays the guitar more than 5 hours every day; and that's music to the ears of his teacher, Don Zentz.

"I have seen him grow and watched him grow," recalled Zentz, "I think the sky's the limit for Maurice."

Chakour lets his fingers do the talking while he inspires other students to reach for similar heights.

"It paves the way, it shows that it can be done and that kids right here from Jacksonville at at Douglas Anderson can achieve," said Zentz.

Chakour's achievements have already led to the national stage, and they may soon lead to more opportunities.

"I would say music is going to be part of my life as long as I live in some way, shape or form," said Chakour, "I feel that the freedom that you get in jazz kind of offers you an outlet that maybe you can't get in personal life. I'm definitely always going to be a musical student no matter what."

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