Monday, August 9, 2010

RIP: Clyde Kerr, Jr.

Legendary music teacher, trumpeter Clyde Kerr Jr. dies at 67

Trumpeter, composer and influential music teacher Clyde Kerr Jr., whose list of students included Nicholas Payton, Terence Blanchard, Irvin Mayfield, Christian Scott and Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews, has died. He was 67.

His grandson Drew, who had helped care for him in recent months, said Mr. Kerr died Friday after battling an illness in recent months. However he was well enough to lead the annual Satchmo Summer Jazz Camp last month.

Like his father before him, Mr. Kerr taught several generations of students the finer points of New Orleans music.

"We grew up in a household that should have had a revolving door, when you think about the students and musicians who came through that house," said Gwen Bierria, Mr. Kerr's sister.

Mr. Kerr told the Times-Picayune in 2009 that his father gave him his first trumpet when he was 9, but he didn’t have an interest in playing it. It took eight years before he would develop a lifelong love for the instrument.

His early career included work as a studio musician, for national acts such as The Jackson Five, The O'Jays, Aretha Franklin, Tony Bennett, Allen Toussaint, Dr. John and the Neville Brothers.

A native of Treme who graduated from St. Augustine High School and Xavier University, Mr. Kerr’s first teaching job was in St. John the Baptist Parish.

His teaching career included stints at other middle schools, high schools and universities in New Orleans, but was most notable for the 16 years he spent teaching jazz at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts and NOCCA Academy. Mr. Kerr retired from teaching at NOCCA after Hurricane Katrina.

"There were so many lives he touched as a teacher, helping them to reach their full potential," his sister said Sunday.

Last year, Mr. Kerr released his first CD of original compositions, called “This is Now.”

In addition to his sister, Mr. Kerr is survived by three children and 10 grandchildren.

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