NAMM Member KHS America has donated $100,000 worth of musical instruments to Waverly Junior High and High School to revive their school music programs after a devastating flood swept through their Tennessee community.
In August 2021, heavy rains culminated in a flash flood across western Tennessee. In 12 hours, five counties received up to a quarter of the normal annual precipitation, totaling ten to 15 inches. Much of the torrential rainfall flowed along the Trace Creek, causing swells to fall on the city of Waverly and destroying hundreds of homes and businesses, and flooding Waverly Junior High and High School. With the surge of floodwaters sweeping through the schools, officials have commented that the only saving grace of the disaster was that it had not occurred on a school day, as rescue efforts would have been nearly impossible.
In November, KHS America, alongside 22-time GRAMMY® Award winner Vince Gill, singer/songwriter Alex Hall, and the Country Music Association (CMA) Foundation, visited Waverly Central High School to present students with new instruments. The project arose from the long-standing collaborative efforts of KHS America and the CMA Foundation. The duo has worked on endeavors that supply quality musical instruments to support music education including, supporting charitable organizations like Little Kids Rock, United Sound, Save The Music, and the W.O. Smith School. When Gill heard of the efforts from the CMA Foundation, he felt it was important not only to get involved with the project but to personally meet and talk with students about the importance of music and the difference it makes in students’ lives.
“One of the core values of KHS America is that as a company, ‘We believe that music is an essential part of life for every individual and that it provides a contribution to society as a whole.’ This donation mirrors our core value, and it is the reason we do what we do”, says Rick DeJonge, KHS America Artist and Educator Relations Manager. The relief efforts in Waverly are just one of the long list of donations KHS America and its partners have made. Past charitable projects include $15,000 worth of woodwinds to replace instruments that were destroyed by a truck, a $60,000 donation with Harry Connick Jr. to Central High School in Baton Rouge, Louisiana after floods destroyed their instruments; $55,000 worth of instruments provided alongside the Tim McGraw and Faith Hill Foundation to schools in the Bahamas who were impacted by a hurricane; and a $40,000 endowment of instruments to Paradise, California after a fire ravished the community.
KHS America hopes to inspire other NAMM Members to get involved with communities impacted by disasters. DeJonge offers this advice, “We encourage others wishing to provide support to partner with a local retailer. Their existing relationships will make it easier to work closely with the school and affiliated parent organizations to create a well-rounded effort for supporting music education in the community. At KHS America, this is a fundamental aspect of our ‘Academic Alliance’ program and is critical to facilitating such endeavors.”
For more information from KHS America, please visit them at https://khs-america.com/.
Images Courtesy of Stephanie McKendrick
In July, four major music trade publications welcomed new owner, Mike Lawson. The change in ownership of School Band & Orchestra (SBO), Musical Merchandise Review (MMR), JAZZed, and Choral Director became effective with the August 2021 issue of each publication.
For over 30 years, Lawson has served the music industry by publishing numerous books, videos, periodicals, directory, and software works, working with publishers like Alfred Music Publishing, artistpro.com, Hal Leonard, MIXBooks, Thomson Learning, and Thomas Nelson. Despite his lifelong desire to become a musician, it wasn’t an easy road. As a child, his family could not afford an instrument for him, so Lawson worked at an early age cutting grass and performing odd jobs to save up enough cash to purchase a guitar. As he grew, he studied music magazines and books to learn as much as he could about gear and the art of musicianship.
Lawson honed his skills and spent years performing in clubs, colleges, frat houses, and other venues around the southeast of America. In 1991, he relocated to Nashville and opened an office on the famed “Music Row” and was intent on applying his unique history studying music publications as a child to try to break into music publishing.
By 1992, Lawson introduced “The Entertainment Source Library,” an industry legal contract software, and founded the “Music Industry Forum,” the first digital promotional downloads of 30-second sound bites of music releases from top record labels. During this time, Lawson worked alongside icons like Jack Casady and Jorma Kaukonen (Hot Tuna and Jefferson Airplane), Thomas Dolby, Robbie Kreiger (The Doors), Lou Reed, and Bob Welch. In late 1993, he sold the rights to his software product to Act III Media, the publisher of MIX magazine, transitioning to product marketing for Gibson.
In 1996, Lawson was recruited to MIX magazine and its related entities to help establish MIXBooks. While working for MIX Lawson found success outside of the office, serving on the Board of Governors of The Recording Academy, rising to serve as a trustee for the national organization. He also had the opportunity to continue performing, playing with local legends Merl Saunders and members of the Grateful Dead, Tower of Power, Jerry Garcia Band, and Legion of Mary.
In the late 90s and early 2000s, Lawson acquired book imprints and a catalog of works by partnering with CMG, Recoding Industry Sourcebook, and Publicitas to launch artistpro.com. The website became the first to host community forums hosted by GRAMMY® winners who advised members on audio production. Before his June 2021 purchase of School Band & Orchestra (SBO), Musical Merchandise Review (MMR), JAZZed, and Choral Director, Lawson was part of the editorial staff.
Lawson has also shown substantial achievement in his philanthropic endeavors. In 1997, he became involved in Technology in Music Education (TI:ME), a non-profit funded with a grant from The NAMM Foundation. While on the organization's advisory board, Lawson published books by educators which addressed how to modernize how music was taught in schools. He also volunteered with The Recording Academy as part of the A&N Committee until 2009 and served on the Board of Directors for The TEC Foundation before it joined The NAMM Foundation. In 2011, Lawson joined TI:ME as its executive director and helped the organization grow its professional development opportunities, a position he still holds.