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Family of Woody Herman Announces the Woody Herman Award for Excellence in Music Education


The family of jazz great Woody Herman has announced the creation of the Woody Herman Award for excellence in jazz education. The honor will be conferred annually to one or more jazz educators who have made a significant impact on the lives of students, and whose efforts have contributed to the legacy of jazz. The award will be handed out each April, during Jazz History Month, starting this year.

“The family of Woody Herman is delighted to have created this award that will honor great jazz educators,” says Tom Alexios, a spokesman for the family. “They believe that the future of jazz is in the hands of today’s children, and educators who share their passion for jazz with our youth should be celebrated.”

2022 honorees receiving the Woody Herman Award:

Clifford Gribble, founder of the Jazz Studies Program at Milwaukee High School of the Arts and the Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra’s Jazz Studies Program. Gribble also developed nationally recognized jazz programs at Milwaukee Washington High School and Portage High School. After retiring from the Milwaukee public schools in 2001, Gribble created Jazz Studies Outreach, a program that develops jazz education opportunities for students in Milwaukee and elsewhere. Gribble’s jazz compositions are frequently performed by high school and college jazz ensembles.

Leon Brady, founder of Kansas City Youth Jazz, band director at Sumner High School in Kansas City, Kan., and private percussion instructor to scores of students. As an accomplished professional musician, Brady has focused his entire career on passing on his knowledge of jazz history and inspiring students of all ages to achieve their personal best.

Sam and Pam Johnson, founders of the Elder Statesman of Kansas City Jazz, worked tirelessly for many years to support musicians, especially jazz musicians. Sam is a professional drummer. The Johnsons created the first food pantry for musicians in 2006, and every year they distributed holiday baskets to musicians and their families who needed assistance. They were also great advocates of music education. Pam died in 2020 at the age of 65.

Woody Herman, 1913 – 1987, was a jazz clarinetist, saxophonist, composer, and band leader. For more than 50 years he led the Thundering Herds—one of the most popular swing era bands that was one of the first to embrace the bebop style of jazz. Herman won three Grammy Awards and received a Grammy lifetime achievement award in 1987. “The family of Woody Herman is so pleased to pay homage to Woody by presenting the award in his name to these outstanding jazz educators and jazz advocates,” says Alexios.

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