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Iconic jazz musician and Loyola honorary degree recipient Clyde Kerr Jr., dies

August 13, 2010

Clyde Kerr Jr., New Orleans jazz trumpeter and former instructor of music at Loyola University New Orleans, died Friday, Aug. 6. Kerr was 67.

Among the most highly respected musicians and educators in the history of New Orleans music, Kerr influenced a multitude of up-and-coming musicians during his 43-year career. Many of those went on to have notable careers in jazz, including Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews, Nicholas Payton, Wynton Marsalis, Christian Scott, and Irvin Mayfield.

During its 2010 commencement, Loyola awarded Kerr an honorary doctor of music degree for his contribution to the preservation and advancement of New Orleans music and his impact on generations of musicians.

Kerr’s teaching career flourished during a 16-year stretch at the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts. Unconsciously steeped from childhood in the traditions of the celebrated sounds of the city, Kerr inadvertently became a torchbearer for the culture and discipline that makes New Orleans music recognizable and respected worldwide.

In addition to NOCCA and Loyola, Kerr also taught at Tulane university, Delgado Community College and other New Orleans public schools. Most recently, Kerr taught this past summer at the Louis Armstrong “Satchmo” Summer Jazz Program hosted by Loyola.

Kerr’s impact on the lives of his students can hardly be overstated. More than teaching music to young artists, Kerr taught them a dedication to quality and excellence. As succinctly stated by Irvin Mayfield, “He’d tell us, ‘These notes are not just notes. These notes are memories and ideas of what this city has been for so long.’”

“He was a great man and we were fortunate to have him on our campus,” said John Snyder, director of Loyola’s Music Industry Studies program. “He gave his life for music and the education of young people. Although he will be sorely missed, how do we weep for those who leave us so full of hope?”

A mass for Kerr will be held Saturday, Aug. 14, at 10 a.m. at St. Peter Claver Catholic Church at 1932 Dumaine St. Visitation will begin at 8 a.m. and the burial will be in Lake Lawn Cemetery.

In addition to Kerr’s sister, survivors include a son, Clyde Kerr III of Lafayette; two daughters, Gina Smith of New Orleans and Stephanie Hall of Acworth, Ga.; and 10 grandchildren.

For more information, contact Sean Snyder in Loyola’s Office of Public Affairs at smsnyder@loyno.edu or call 504-861-5882.

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Loyola at a Glance is written and distributed for the faculty, staff, students and friends of Loyola University New Orleans. It is published by the Office of Public Affairs, Greenville Hall, Box 909, 7214 St. Charles Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70118. (504) 861-5888.

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