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Mon, 11.15.1915

Conrad Johnson, Teacher and Musician

Conrad Johnson

*On this date in 1915, Conrad Johnson was born.  He was a Black jazz saxophonist and music teacher.

From Victoria, Texas, Conrad O. Johnson was nine when his family moved to Houston.  Following studies at Yates High School, he attended Houston College for Negroes and graduated from Wiley College. He was a active member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.

Johnson was a proficient musician in his own right and, at one point, played with Count Basie. Erskine Hawkins tried to convince him to join his orchestra, but Johnson declined, citing a love of teaching and obligations to his family.   He started his career in music education in 1941 and, following a thirty-seven-year career, retired from his position at Kashmere High School in 1978, but continued to remain active in shaping music in Houston by conducting summer programs and in-home tutoring.

Later, Johnson made his lasting contribution to music by forming the Kashmere Stage Band, a renowned school orchestra that won a number of awards during its decade-long run.  The Conrad O. Johnson School of Fine Arts at Kashmere High School is named after him. He was long associated with the city of Houston, who was inducted into the Texas Bandmasters Hall of Fame in 2000.

Conrad O. Johnson died in Houston on February 3, 2008 the afternoon after his former students staged a celebration in his honor.  The students described the gala Saturday night concert that was filmed by a documentary crew, as "the greatest 92nd birthday gift that he could have ever requested".

Reference:
from staff reports
February, 2008

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