Ivan Hampden Jr. , Founder and President/CEO of Hamptown Music Institute, was born and raised in New York City, and grew up in Harlem’s musically diverse neighborhoods to the rhythms of R&B, Salsa, Caribbean, Jazz, Blues, Pop, Funk and whatever else trickled in. This saturation of music inspired Hampden to start playing the drums at the age of eight, with the local Catholic school marching band. By age 13, he was playing in local clubs in and around New York City, with Blues musicians who helped instill in him a sense of timing and groove. The musical diversity of his early youth set the foundation for Hampden’s future work with percussion and keyboards.
Hampden started his formal training in 1973, studying at the Jazz Mobile with Charlie Percep, and at Mannes College of Music with Norman Grossman. He went on to attend Bronx Community College in 1977, where he received private lessons at the Metropolitan Opera with Richard Horowitz. During his first semester at Bronx Community College, a friend told him about the Dance Theatre of Harlem. Hampden had to be involved and joined the orchestra—a position he still holds today. While at the Dance Theatre of Harlem, Hampden was also a drum and percussion instructor at the Harlem School of the Arts, and at Seton Hall University in the Black Music Department. But his talent reached far beyond Harlem. Hampden has touched and enhanced the New York theater community as well, performing for various shows on Broadway, The Alvin Ailey Dance Theater, and at The Richard Allen Center for Cultural Arts.
Not only an accomplished drummer and percussionist, Hampden is also a producer and songwriter who collaborates with such artists as Luther Vandross, Nick Ashford, Chaka Khan, and many others. He is a proficient studio musician as well as a charismatic tour musician with a worldwide travel itinerary.
Along with being Luther Vandross’ drummer and co-writing partner for 17 years (which earned him recognition four(4)times from the Grammy Awards as a Musician, Arranger and Programmer on a number of Vandross’s platinum recordings) until the time of the consummate musician’s death , Hampden currently records and tours with other notable artists such as Stephanie Mills, Ashford & Simpson, Roberta Flack, Phil Perry, Vanessa Williams and Jennifer Lopez.
Ivan has also performed behind such artists as Bonnie Raitt, Al Jarreau, Dionne Warwick, Maceo Parker, El Debarge, Kenny Lattimore, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Michael MacDonald, India.Arie and Joe—the list goes on and on. New and accomplished talent alike seems to gravitate toward Hampden.
Hampden’s recording resume includes such artists as Diana Ross, Akiko Yano, Ann Nesby, Doc Powell, Jocelyn Brown, Mavis Staples, The Temptations, Nestor Torres, Marcus Miller, Cathy Dennis, Howard Hewett, Luther Vandross, Beyonce Knowles, Ashford & Simpson, Sy Coleman, Tramaine Hawkins and Roberta Flack, just to name a few.
In 2001, Hampden relocated to the south, where he continues to write and produce in between touring around the country and world. His latest venture perhaps best shows the dedication Hampden has for sharing music and teaching a new generation the skills that made him famous.
In fall 2007, Hampden signed on as an adjunct professor at North Carolina Central University in Durham, North Carolina, teaching recording production I and II, and audio postproduction. In the Fall of 2010, Ivan also accepted an offer to teach Drums and Percussion at Johnston Community College.
After 10 years of teaching as a music educator in North Carolina, 2014 has seen Ivan begin a new venture – The Hamptown Music Institute in Clayton, North Carolina, where his mission is to “Develop the next generation of music industry professionals and Artists.” While continuing to be in demand as a music Producer, Ivan is also working with new local talent around the country.
You would be hard-pressed to find Ivan with a frown on his face, or without a bounce in his step. “I love life, absorb life and want more than anything to share life. I share and communicate most often with music—the guiding force behind most of my life and relationships. I have built a life around music and I am blessed to still be living that life and meeting all the wonderful people along the way. I believe that life is truly what you make it and if you put out positive vibes, you receive positive vibes in return.”
This is his story—the rest is still unwritten…