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John A. Lewis is a native of Dallas and he attended Mountain View Junior College and Southern Methodist University in the 1970s. Lewis spent his younger years surrounded by musicians such as James Moody, Red Garland, Etta James, Ray Charles, and local musician James Clay who were often booked by his father or promoted by his grandfather. He is a former student of noted jazz educator, Dr. Thom Mason and the late local pianist and composer Claude Johnson, Jr. After performing in R&B bands as a trumpet player Lewis switched to the piano and became more involved in playing and composing jazz. He draws his musical influences from the music styling of Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, and Wayne Shorter and classical composers Eric Satie and Claude Dubussy.