Check it out BIg Blue for the 100!!!

28th & Jefferson

TSU celebrates its first 100 years with a new album

by Jim Ridley

Before the late Hank Crawford went on to a stellar career as a hard-bop saxophonist and revered Ray Charles sideman, he started out as a student at what would become Tennessee State University. So did Memphis soul great Carla Thomas, who was attending the school (then known as Tennessee A&I) when her 1960 single “Gee Whiz (Look at His Eyes)” hit the national charts the following year, putting Stax Records on the map.

James Brown/P-Funk trombonist Fred Wesley attended TSU for a period, as did Grammy-winning producer/songwriter Shannon Sanders. Other distinguished musical alums range from Duke Ellington bassist Jimmy Blanton to Nashville soul man Tyrone “Super T” Smith. As for instructors, the late W.O. Smith, a jazz bassist who’d performed with Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, changed lives as a TSU music professor.

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