|ABOUT HALL OF FAME INDUCTEE, CONRAD "PROF" JOHNSON|
|“Known to many simply as "Prof",
Conrad Johnson is perhaps the most widely recognized and beloved music educator
in Houston. Highly respected as a versatile, passionate saxophonist and
leader of the band, Conrad Johnson and His Orchestra, the diminutive octogenarian
has for over 50 years been a major force in shaping the Houston sound, a
rich synthesis of the seemingly antithetical elements of down-home Texas
blues and sophisticated jazz,” according to Roger Ward Living Blues
Reflecting on his career, Prof is proud of his accomplishments as a teacher and father, roles he values more than his own reputation as a performer. "...see, I had a chance to go on the road, but I didn't. A couple of bands (including the Erskine Hawkins Orchestra) came by and tried to get me to go (on the road), but I was teaching. And I had a family--four children and a wife--and I didn't feel like leaving them," said Johnson. Of this, former pop music critic for the Houston Chronicle, Rick Mitchell, said, "Conrad Johnson is one of Houston's unsung cultural heroes. He could have made a national name for himself with his two big bands; instead he chose to devote his career to educating Houston's future musicians. He retired from the school system, but he's still hard at work as an educator."
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.
Johnson mentions local forerunners with deep respect, such as teachers
and musicians Abner Jones and Anderson Lacy. But he also has great hope
for those who will come after him--especially the fortunate Houston school
children he still reaches each year in summer workshops and his private
tutoring in his home. Feeling the need to continue to reach out to children,
Mr. Johnson co-founded the successful Summer Jazz Workshop, which has
provided intensive music training for 29 years. This workshop continues
to serve hundreds of our youth each year by providing a hands-on experience
with world-renowned artists, many of whom are students of Mr. Johnson.
Adding to Mr. Johnson’s accomplishments was his induction into
the Phi Beta Mu/Texas Bandmasters Association Hall of Fame. This event,
which honors only retired, accomplished, band directors, was held on July