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Lobbyist, jazz pianist swings off the Hill

Andrew Adair spent eight years as a professional musician before going to law school

March 6, 2015
By Lori Sharn

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When jazz vocalist Marlena Shaw performed at the Kennedy Center last year, she seemed as amazed as anyone by her piano player’s day job. Shaw gave a shout out during her set to “attorney Andrew Adair.”

Adair is also a lobbyist, working Capitol Hill as a government relations representative for the American Academy of Family Physicians.

Adair is a freelance jazz pianist now, but he was a full-time professional musician for eight years during the late 1990s and early 2000s, first in New Orleans and then in New York City. During that time, he performed for three years in the band of New Orleans jazz saxophonist Donald Harrison and was featured on recordings of other well-known artists.

He recorded his own album “States” in 2000, which a JazzTimes review called a “dazzling 10-tune tribute to American popular song.”

“I played at places I grew up thinking I would be lucky to visit, much less perform there,” Adair said. But despite his musical success, making a living in jazz was challenging, Adair said.

“I was fortunate to achieve a lot of the goals I had set for myself,” he said. “I had an interest in using another part of my brain.”

After getting a law degree from The George Washington University, Adair worked as a litigator with many health care clients and then as health counsel for U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.). He joined AAFP in 2013.

Adair said he’s played in most of Washington’s jazz clubs, calling his style that of the “golden age” of American jazz of the 1950s and 1960s.

Being a musician is “a part of me and will always be part of me,” Adair said. “It’s not a hobby. It’s part of who I am.”

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AAFP lobbyist Andrew Adair (far left) performs at the Kennedy Center in 2014 with vocalist Marlena Shaw. Watch a video of the performance here.