During his four seasons as a football standout at Horace Mann, Raphael “Ray-Ray” Silverman always stood out.
It was easy to spot Silverman at 6-foot-2 and a tinch over 200 pounds, as he was always in the middle of the action, playing a pivotal role in the Lions winning three Ivy League championships in his four years.
These days, as he begins the countdown until he leaves for college, Silverman is again standing out. But not on the football field. It seems Silverman is a rather accomplished musician, and he’s been showing off his talents at area nightspots the past few months.
“I’m a jazz guitarist,” Silverman said. “I’ve been playing since middle school. In the past few months I’ve been playing solo gigs in places in White Plains. But I’ve also been playing with other people in the city.”
Silverman has become the football equivalent of Bernie Williams, the former Yankees star who embarked on his own career as a jazz musician once his playing days were over. Now with his Horace Mann days behind him, Silverman plans to pursue his love of music at the prestigious University of Chicago.
“One of the reasons I chose Chicago was I knew I wanted to study music, but I wasn’t going to go to a music school,” Silverman said. “I like Chicago because they have a core curriculum in which you have to take certain classes, which is good because if I had complete control over what courses I would take, I would probably take too many music courses. So this way I can be introduced to something else that I may enjoy.”
Classes at Chicago start later than most schools, around Oct. 1, according to Silverman, so he’ll use that time to hang with his old Horace Mann friends and officially put his high school days behind him.
“But I’m sure it’s going to be a lot different once I start college,” Silverman said. “I think the top three things I’m going to miss most about Horace Mann are the football team and my friends and teachers who I have a close relationship with. Hopefully my friendships will be life-long ones.”
Silverman also has carved out time this summer to bring his love of music to others.
“I’ve been giving lessons to little kids,” Silverman said. “I’m really enjoying it.”
Once Silverman does head for Chicago, he’ll leave one thing behind — his football playing days. He has opted not to play for the Maroons next season.
“I was thinking about it, but I think it would be too much of a time commitment for me,” Silverman said. “So I’d rather use the time I would be spending on football focusing on music.”
Silverman doesn’t have a clear picture of what his life will be like after college, but he knows music will play a part in it.
“At Chicago, when you’re a music major, you typically major in two things. But right now I have no complete idea of what I want to be doing after college,” Silverman said. “That’s what I’m going to Chicago to figure out.”
And while he figures that out, Silverman also plans to perform in and around his new college home.
“I know I’m definitely going to keep playing in college,” Silverman said. “It’s just something I really enjoy.”
Silverman hopes to work on UC’s radio station this fall and would like to introduce some jazz programming to the station’s lineup. It’s just one of the many things he’s anticipating once he hits the Windy City.
“Mostly what I’m looking forward to is being on my own,” Silverman said. “But in college you also have the opportunity to reinvent yourself. Not that I want to or need to do that, but it’s like a fresh start. So I’m looking forward to that.”
And don’t be surprised if you find Silverman around Riverdale again when he’s on school break. Only don’t look for him on a football field. Think chic cafes with a cool jazz vibe.
“I’ve played in places in White Plains, but one of the places I reached out to in Riverdale is a place called The Hill on Riverdale Avenue,” Silverman said. “And An Beal Bocht, I’ve been there before and they have jazz nights there. So that might be another place I may try to play.
“I’m definitely going to look into that.”