GSU music alums play key roles in task force

Grambling State University Band Director Dr. Larry Pannell recently joined six other music educators from historically Black colleges or universities to explore issues of music education at HBCUs.The task force was sponsored by the National Association of Music Merchants, or NAMM, a non-profit trade association that unifies leads and strengthens the $17 billion global musical instruments and products industry.

NAMM asked Dr. Willie Hill, a 1968 graduate of GSU, and chairman of the task force, to choose seven influential individuals who were prominent music contributors from around the HBCU community to address music education needs at HBCUs.

“NAMM felt it was important to engage HBCUs in a conversation to address music education and what the needs might be for HBCUs to actively get the message across,” Hill said. “I identified Dr. Larry Pannell as one of the movers and shakers in the field of music to be a part of this.”

Hill, himself, is a mover and shaker. He was inducted into the Grambling State University Hall of Fame in 2008, is currently the Director of the Fine Arts Center at the University of Massachusetts/Amherst, and a professor in music education. He was also included in the first edition of Who’s Who Among Black Americans.

The task force’s purpose was to engage in dialogue and develop recommendations about the role of HBCUs in music education and expand access and opportunity for all students to receive music as a part of quality education, expanding the expertise among music majors.

Pannell believes the group made progress during the discussions.

“It was an honor to be included among these great music educators and to be a part of NAMM’s tremendous program,” Pannell said. “We just scratched the surface on a number of important issues, and I’m sure the conversations will continue.”

Joining Pannell were: Dr. Alvin Amos, Lincoln University; Professor Beverly Hill, University of Massachusetts Amherst; Dr. Charles Hicks, Winston Salem University; Dr. James Holden, Jackson State University; Dr. O’Neill Sanford, Norfolk State University; Dr. Russell Thomas, Jackson State University.