Jerry Tolson Named to Jazz Educators of Iowa Hall of Fame
Jerry Tolson, Professor of Music Education and Jazz Studies and Chair of the Academic and Professional Studies Department in the School of Music at the University of Louisville, has been named the 2021 inductee to the Jazz Educators of Iowa (JEI) Hall of Fame. The JEI Hall of Fame recognizes individuals who have created new directions and curricular innovations in regards to jazz education in the state of Iowa.
Tolson will receive his award at the Iowa Jazz Championships in April 2022.
A Mt. Pleasant, Iowa native, Tolson taught in Iowa at Sigourney, Des Moines Dowling, and Des Moines Hoover, as well as Central College and the University of Nebraska-Omaha before receiving his appointment at Louisville.
“There are a few names that people keep mentioning as having a huge impact on jazz education in our state, and Jerry Tolson is one that comes up again and again,” said Dennis Green, JEI President. “One of Iowa's first Black music educators, Jerry was a role model to students and other teachers across the state. Many of the things he put into place as a young band director are hallmarks of jazz teaching in Iowa today. And he continues to be a positive impact on Iowa jazz education, through the many students who followed him into teaching as well as returning home to serve as an adjudicator and clinician.”
Pat Kearney, past president of the Iowa Bandmasters Association, took over at Des Moines Hoover after Tolson’s departure.
“During his time as a high school band director in Iowa, Mr. Tolson was a leader in programming authentic jazz literature as well as introducing more contemporary jazz pedagogy to the state” Kearney said. “In addition, he was highly involved with the Des Moines Community Jazz Center, which brought many of Iowa’s finest young jazz musicians together on a regular basis to study with jazz professionals."
A graduate of Drake University and the University of North Texas, Mr. Tolson is an active clinician, adjudicator, and guest conductor. He has made presentations at national and international conferences such as IAJE, JEN, and NAfME; numerous state conferences; and the Midwest Clinic, as well as universities in the U.S. and abroad. Tolson has also conducted All-State and Honor Jazz Ensembles in numerous states including Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, and Kentucky. As a composer and arranger, his vocal jazz works are published by UNC Jazz Press. He is an author and clinician for Kendor Music, a clinician/consultant for Alfred Music Publishing Company and a content consultant for Pearson/Prentice Hall Educational Publications. He is the educational director for the University of Louisville Jazz Festival and co-founder of U of L's African American Music Heritage Institute, a celebration of the contributions of African Americans to America's musical history, as well a national series of jazz teacher training institutes. In addition, he has been a faculty member of the Jamey Aebersold Summer Jazz Workshops for over twenty years.
Tolson has been named to "Who's Who Among America's Teachers," has received the Kentucky Music Educators "College Teacher of the Year" award, the University of Louisville Exemplary Multicultural Teaching Award, and has twice been recognized with the University of Louisville Distinguished Faculty Service Award. Tolson has served as a board member of the University of Louisville Athletic Association, the University Club of Louisville, and IAJE. His other professional memberships include the American Federation of Musicians, Jazz Education Network, the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP), the National Association of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS) also known as the Grammy organization, College Music Society, Pi Kappa Lambda (Honorary Music Society), Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, Kentucky Music Educators Association, and the National Association for Music Education.