Rolling Without Limits

Your mobility may be limited. Your voice, boundless.

Bonnie Slater: Musician, Teacher, Innovator... Unstoppable!
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Bonnie Slater: Musician, Teacher, Innovator... Unstoppable!

     I have told you a little about myself here at Rolling Without Limits. But I have not told you about my wife Bonnie. My wife is a force to reckon with! I am in the process of writing a book about our life together because it won’t all fit here! Bonnie or Benita Slater is a world-class saxophonist. She has played internationally, and she has traded licks with some of music's greatest musicians over the years. Wynton Marsalis actually told her “Benita, Benita, Benita, I will never forget that name”. This was after a performance they shared at The Duke Ellington School Of Arts in  Washington the 90’s. David Sanborn gave her a motto, he told her: “Music is the Healing Art”  Bonnie is living proof of that. My wife has M.S. (Multiple Sclerosis). She has been wheelchair-bound because of it since she was about 12 years old. That didn’t stop her. She wanted to play the saxophone. Her parents said she had to start with the clarinet. So she did. She did so well that a year later she switched to the saxophone she wanted. Early on some teachers told her: “You can’t play sax from a wheelchair”. Bonnie wouldn’t hear it. She played and played well. She played so well that she landed a scholarship toThe Peabody Conservatory Of Music at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. She was the first wheelchair student to attend Peabody. Renovations had to be made in order for her to get to classes. She made it worth their while. She was a star. She won the Yale Gordon Concerto Competition. Peabody’s highest honor. She was the first saxophonist to do this.

Bonnie has played at the White House for 3 presidents: Reagan, Bush sr. And Clinton...she played for Clinton’s initial inauguration. (He declined a duet). Her favorite performance at The White House, however, was in 1994 for The Emperor and Empress of Japan. (That actually followed our first date!) I still have a local newspaper article.

Beyond all that Bonnie has been an advocate for people with disabilities working with The Kennedy Foundation’s VSAarts program.


to promote arts for the disabled and In 1995 she was Ms. Wheelchair Maryland. In that capacity, she spoke publicly and performed to promote public awareness for people with disabilities and the value of their contribution to the arts. Throughout her entire career she has taught music to hundreds of students...not just Saxophone either… Everything!  She continues to teach today in Charlottesville Va. But wait, in 2012 Bonnie invented and patented a tuning device for the saxophone that is currently distributed by Conn-Selmer the leading producer of Saxophones in the US and Asia. So you see what I mean when I say my wife is a force to be reckoned with….She’s unstoppable! And there’s More! That’s why I have to write a book!  Keep Movin Y’all!


Image credit: Slater

More about VSAarts, Music, MS

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