The late great jazz saxophonist, educator icon, and Texas Bandmasters Hall of Fame Inductee Conrad O. Johnson has long been recognized as one of the premier jazz musicians in Houston and the nation. He has shared the spotlight with jazz and rhythm and blues stars such as Najee, Wynton Marsalis, Kirk Whalum, Lou Rawls, Grover Washington, Dizzy Gillespie, Arnett Cobb, Johnny Hartman, Roy Hamilton, Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson and Johnny Nash.
After first attending Houston College for Negroes and later graduating from Wylie College in the east Texas town of Marshall, Johnson began teaching in public schools in 1941. His 37 years of classroom service were highlighted by a distinguished tenure as director of the Kashmere High School Stage Band, which won 42 out of 46 contests entered between 1969 and 1977, recorded eight albums featuring more than 20 original compositions by Johnson and traveled throughout Europe, Japan and the United States.
Posthumously, “Prof” Johnson remains a vital force in Houston music education. His contributions and achievements are so significant and meritorious that The Conrad Johnson Music and Fine Arts Foundation was established in 1999 continue his legacy so that Houston area youth could continue to receive an invaluable music education.