Prairie View Band Director Dies After Tragic Car Accident

    

Nationally Renowned Band Director to be buried June 5, 2009 at Prairie View University.

Dallas, TX (PRWEB) June 5, 2009 -- Nationally renowned Prairie View Band Director, George Edwards, died May 28th due to complications from a traffic accident in Houston, Texas on May 10th. Edwards, who was 60, directed the Prairie View "Marching Storm" for 30 years. He first arrived in Prairie View in 1978. Edwards performed under the legendary director, Dr. William P. Foster, as part of the Florida A&M "Marching 100" and obtained a Masters Degree in music education from Michigan State University. "On behalf of the entire PVAMU community, we offer our deepest condolences to the entire Edwards family. For three decades we were fortunate to have George contribute to our community…," said PVAMU President George C. Wright, in an official university statement.

Edwards took over a band that numbered 25, had fewer instruments, and built it into an international powerhouse. One of the stars of the new generation of university band directors, Professor Edwards took the FAMU concept of innovative formations, fast stepping and added drum routines, clever framing, along with the "Black Foxes," and raised black college halftime performances to another level. In 2008, the Prairie View band marched more than 310 and was known from coast-to-coast simply as the "Storm." By 2008, he had his pick of the top high school band members from across the country nationally.

His creative collaborator for more than three decades, Dr. Margaret Penn-Sherrod, founder and director of the Prairie View "Black Foxes" offered her perspective on the man known simply as "Prof." "George Edwards truly mastered the fine art of arranging music, specifically, for half-time choreography; it was the foundation for the jazz and high kick precision style of the 'Black Foxes'," reflected Sherrod. "For thirty years, ours was a creative collaboration the success of which Prairie View A&M University's Marching Band had never known. He loved music and cherished the opportunity to train and inspire young people, all of whom will miss him deeply."

During Edward's tenure, the "Marching Storm" performed in President George W. Bush's Inaugural Parade in Washington, D.C. in 2001. Edwards, the Marching Storm Band and the Black Foxes auxiliary dance troupe, also performed at the 2008 Texas A&M University versus the University of Miami football game at Kyle Field in College Station and received overwhelming accolades from ESPN television commentators. The "Marching Storm" and the "Black Foxes," were featured in the 2004 Black College Band Exhibition, "And the Band Played On," which was seen by more than 30,000 at the Dallas Museum of African-American History.

Due to the positive response to Prairie View's section in the exhibit, curator, John Posey was contacted by representatives for British Broadcasting Corporation for a band to feature in a radio special. He recommended Prairie View. BBC spent a week with the "Storm" and recorded the band at the annual Honda Showcase.

BBC producer, Tasmin Hughes, offered this assessment of Edwards: "The brief time Paul and I spent with George and the band will remain with me forever. George was an inspiration, a man with a good heart and driving passion. I am so sorry for the band's loss, the university's loss and that of everyone who knew George. He touched my life in ways I can't describe, however briefly."

National recognition led to Prairie View's three-year run at the Honda Battle of the Bands Invitational Showcase where they went toe-to-toe with MEAC Powers, FAMU and Bethune-Cookman. The band was featured in a DVD documentary, "Stompin' at the Dome."

Edwards and the "Storm" played at the opening of Reliant Stadium in Houston and participated in the Battle of the Flowers Parade in San Antonio. Edwards directed the "Storm" before a national audience on CBS's "The Early Show." The PV Drum Line, "The Box" and the "Black Foxes," were featured performers with Beyonce at the 2004 Dallas Cowboys' Thanksgiving Day game. In 2006, the band performed at the Essence Music Festival in Houston. In November of 2008, the "Box" was flown to Los Angeles for a command performance for executives from Honda Corporation and The Tournament of Roses Parade.

In 2005, the Texas State Senate honored Mr. Edwards with a resolution sponsored by State Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) and State Representative Garnett Coleman (D- Houston) commending his extraordinary works as cultural ambassador for the State of Texas.

Professor Edwards and the Prairie View Band have been featured in The Dallas Morning News, 2004; British Broadcasting New Radio Special, "Marching All Together,"2005; The London Times, 2005; Dallas Weekly; Urban Sports News, 2004-2007; and The New York Times, 2007 feature article and video.

New York Times, music critic, Ben Ratliff accurately described "Prof" Edwards in his feature. "…He teaches marching band as a music department class, and his mandate both on and off the field is to teach musicianship.

So he pushes them through his arrangement of John Coltrane's "Giant Steps," the fast-tempo jazz étude, which changes chords every other beat: murder on the sousaphones. And the band's classics, too: the national anthem, the P.V.U. song (adapted from Sibelius's "Finlandia"), old marches like "Purple Carnival." Roaming the halls of the performing arts building, he growls theory quizzes at the music majors…"

In 2008, John Posey, CEO of Urban Sports News was contacted by Neryzed Entertainment to provide still photos of the Prairie View Marching Band for the 2009 release of the Black College Football Video Game, BCFX, The Doug Williams Edition for the Xbox 360 console. The game is the first content produced for Microsoft by an African-American publisher.

Also in 2008, Urban Sports News commissioned "Prof" Edwards and Dr. Sherrod to produce a video segment to close out the 35th anniversary of the Dallas Minority Business Council. With an intro from, Dallas Mayor, Tom Leppert, the video generated a standing ovation from the 1,200 attendees at the gala; it was also used to promote Prairie View's 2009 Tournament of Roses Parade appearance, and is now a part of the Tournament of Rose's archives.

One of Professor Edwards long-time goals was to march in the Macy's Day and Rose Bowl parades. He was invited to perform at the Macy's Day Parade in 2006, but was unable to raise the $400,000 necessary for the trip to New York.

In 2008, Tournament of Roses President, Corky Conzanaire and his wife Marilyn flew to Houston to watch the "Storm" perform at Texas A&M. The band soon received an invitation and his dream came true as Honda covered the "Storm's" expenses. On January 1, 2009, George Edwards led the "Storm" in the 120th Tournament of Roses Association Rose Parade in Pasadena, CA. Prairie View was the first Black College Band to perform in the Rose Bowl's Parade pilot program to include bands from historically black col


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