2016: Sebastian Whittaker (’85)

1966 – 2016

Sebastian Whittaker (“Bash”) was born on Sept. 12, 1966, in Houston.  At approx. age 2, a rare form of cancer took his eyesight, but that did not stop him from the typical babyish “banging on pops and pans” in the kitchen.  At approx. age 8, his mother realized that the banging had evolved into musical coherence, and bought him his first drum set.  “The rest is history,” abetted by two early mentors: his Edison Middle School band director, Joe Pérez, and private instructor, Craig Green.

Upon Mr. Pérez’s recommendation, Sebastian auditioned for HSPVA and was accepted for the fall semester, 1982, becoming the school’s first blind student.  He had a very impressive high school career in both musical and academic arenas, perhaps capped by his membership in the HSPVA big band that was a sensation in France at Nice’s Grande Parade du Jazz, summer, 1985.

After high school, Bash attended the University of Texas and William Paterson College (New Jersey), returning to Houston in 1987.  He quickly became the “go-to” jazz drummer in town, later adding teaching and computer work (for the Texas Commission for the Blind) to his résumé.

In 1990, Sebastian released First Outing, the debut recording by his band, The Creators.  Four albums were to follow, all to great national and international acclaim.  He also appeared on many other albums as sideman.

Sadly, in January, 2016, Bash discovered he was the victim of cancer.  With his mother, Erma, by his side, a battle was waged, but, he finally succumbed on July 10, 2016.

Sebastian’s Hall of Fame selection was announced to him in his hospital room by members of the DocFest Board on May 31, 2016.  He was very alert that day, and seemed deeply pleased to receive this honor.  The Board was equally pleased to reaffirm his selection at DocFest ’16, and to present Mrs. Whittaker with Sebastian’s crystal Hall of Fame desk memento (He had previously received a special memento in Braille).