WATER VALLEY – Stanley Crow, long time band director and music educator, has been presented the first Ed Shearer III Memorial Award for Artistic Achievement.
The presentation was made by Ramona Bernard and Bill Warren, co-directors of the Water Valley Arts Council, and David Hopple, a member of the Arts Council and Assistant Band Director at Water Valley High School during the Spring Concert of the Water Valley Community Band Monday night.
The award was established by the Arts Council to honor the memory of Ed Shearer III, former editor of the North Mississippi Herald.
“The Water Valley Arts Council will present this Award for Artistic Achievement from time to time to an individual who has made a truly significant and lasting contribution to the arts in Water Valley,” Bernard said.
“Ed was musically gifted, a self-taught musician he could play just about any musical instrument he laid his hands on, though he did have his struggles with the bassoon,” Bernard continued. “Ed Shearer was a gentle and soft-spoken man, he loved music and he loved sharing his music with others.”
“For more than 20 years, Ed taught music to Water Valley children for free. He held classes three days a week at the newspaper, his beloved and patient wife Betty, would help to keep the kids lined up for back-to-back half-hour classes. If they didn’t have an instrument, he found them one. If they didn’t have a strong role model in their lives he provided that too,” she added.
Shearer was music director at Woodland Hills Baptist Church, taught music at Faith Academy, and was one of the co-founders of the Community Band.
“He enjoyed sitting in with the High School Jazz Band during performances as a grown-up,” Bernard said. “The hundreds of children Ed Shearer taught are his real legacy – including his son, Jim, who is carrying on the music teaching tradition in New Mexico. They are not only better musicians, but better people for that experience.”
Hopple presented the award, a director’s baton engraved with Crow’s name in a case with a plaque that reads “To a great music educator, from a grateful community, Water Valley Arts Council – 2009.”
Hopple described Crow as a gentleman and said, “He took the job of Band Director in 1969 for what was then regarded as one of the worst high school bands in the state of Mississippi.”
“Over the next few years he turned that band into a powerhouse, one of the best bands in the state,” Hopple said. “Year after year, the young men and women he trained were selected to participate in the Lions Band competition, and the Mississippi Lions Band is consistently a winner in the national competition.”
“Tonight’s honoree was a leader, mentor, and role model for Water Valley band members for 28 years. He was always there for them. He is patient, and he is giving. Not to mention that he is talented.”
Hopple continued, “I could spend more time than we have tonight telling you about the recognition this man has earned: the George Henry Schultz Award, the Star Teacher Award, the Phi Beta Mu Outstanding Contributor Award, President of the Northeast Mississippi Band Directors Association and a member of the Association’s Hall of Fame . . . the list is long.”
“His proudest honors have been those given him by Water Valley: the Junior Chamber of Commerce recognized him back in the 1980s and he and his wife Becky served as Grand Marshals of the water Valley Christmas Parade in 2002.”
“But this award tonight isn’t about what this gentleman has received. It’s about what he has given. He gave Water Valley High School nearly three decades of leadership in band and he elevated the school’s band program to a nationally competitive level,” Hopple continued.
“He – along with a few other folks, including Ed Shearer – gave us the community band that is going to play here tonight. Perhaps most important, this man gave inspiration to more young Water Vallians than you can count. As well as music he taught them discipline, and self-discipline, and teamwork, and the lesson that hard work will pay off. He has also been an inspiration and a role model for me, personally.”
In concluding the presentation speech, Hopple said, “It is appropriate that Stanley Crow be the first recipient of the Ed Shearer Award. He and Ed Shearer were the best of friends. They shared an appreciation of music, an understanding of the importance of music education, and a love for the community of Water Valley. They gave back to the community and in so doing they made us a better community.”
Betty Shearer, widow of Ed Shearer III, said that she was deeply honored and grateful to the Arts Council for their recognition of her husband’s contributions.
The Arts Council is dedicated to enhancing the quality of life and the vitality of the people of Water Valley by nurturing an awareness of, involvement in, and commitment to the creative arts, according to Bernard and Warren.
All artists, performers, musicians, writers, and anyone who simply appreciates the arts, are invited to join the art council on the first Tuesday of every month at 6:30 p.m. in the Main Street office at 207 Main St.