Ray and Sonja Crenshaw have established a scholarship at Lander in the name of jazz great Bix Beiderbecke.
A scholarship honoring jazz great Bix Beiderbecke has been established at Lander University.
The scholarship is for a married, returning nontraditional student majoring in music education, with an emphasis on trumpet.
The intent was to help "the kind of student who has everything working against him," according to Ray Crenshaw, who, with his wife Sonja, is funding the award.
The Crenshaws also wanted to support the Lander Music Department, especially assistant professor Dr. Reed P. Gallo, who teaches trumpet.
"I don't think we would have considered this if he weren't here," said Crenshaw.
As an example of what Gallo brings to Lander, Crenshaw referred to the Lander professor's recent performance of the trumpet part in Johann Sebastian Bach's "Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 in F Major," which is "famous among trumpet players" for its difficulty. Crenshaw was impressed that Gallo "stood up there and played the whole thing."
By establishing the Bix Beiderbecke Scholarship, the Crenshaws, of Greenwood, also hope to pay tribute to a self-taught cornet player who became one of the most dazzling jazz soloists of the 1920s.
Crenshaw described Beiderbecke as a "sparkling" player, "harmonically interesting and different," with a gift for improvisation.
"Even Louis Armstrong liked him," Crenshaw said.
Accomplished horn players themselves, who met as members of the Air Force Band, the Crenshaws are also motivated by a desire to give back to Lander, where Ray was a student in the 1970s. He singled out former professor Ann Hutto and professor Emeritus Anthony Lenti as faculty members who taught him "tons."
"I didn't get a degree from Lander," said Ray, "but I took away a lot."
Ralph Patterson, Lander's director of Development, said, "this is another great example of special people who are committed to making a difference at Lander University. News like this encourages others to establish scholarship opportunities for students at Lander."
For information on creating or supporting scholarships at Lander, contact the Office of University Advancement at 864-388-8350.