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Philadelphia native Robert E. Shahid grew up with a constant musical influence. His mother sang opera, his aunt composed and played piano, his grandfather sang in the famed Philadelphia Male Chorus, and his uncle was a legendary vibraphonist for Dave Brubeck, Lynn Hope, and Red Prysock. With those musical influences, Robert studied drums in high school and, after graduating from Florida A&M University, later founded The New Philadelphia Jazz Quintet.