Provided by Civic Lubbock
The Civic Lubbock, Inc. Board is pleased to announce the upcoming inductions into the West Texas Walk of Fame for 2017.
The honorees are: James "J.T." Braxton, Thomas Braxton and Johnny Ray Watson. The induction ceremony will take place at 7:00pm on Thursday, October 19, 2017 in the Lubbock Memorial Civic Center Theater located at 1501 Mac Davis Lane.
Musician and music educator James "J.T." Braxton was born in Tulsa, OK on September 18, 1919. His father, who was an elementary school principal, sang in the choir so James was surrounded by education and music. He began playing the saxophone and violin at an early age. In his teens, he felt a deep passion for music as he enjoyed the big bands of Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Chick Webb, Ella Fitzgerald and many others as they toured on Route 66. Since he was under-aged, young James even crawled through an AC vent to hear his favorite saxophonist, Lester Young. Braxton attended the historic Tuskegee Institute where he joined the school's big band, The Tuskegee Melody Barons. He took a sabbatical after two years and went to the East Coast where he performed with various jazz bands in Philadelphia, New York and Atlantic City. He also performed and toured with the famed Russell Jacquet Band. James enlisted in the Army during World War II, served in the South Pacific and played in the US Military Band. He finished his degree at Wylie College in Marshall, Texas. During those years, he toured extensively with the Wiley Collegians, which included his brother and future brother-in-law. He went on to attend the University of Nebraska, Tyler College and the University of Denver, where he earned his master's degree in music. The Braxton's moved to Lubbock in 1960. James worked with his brother-in-law Roy Roberts to build great band and orchestra programs that became widely recognized through Texas. As an orchestra teacher, Braxton taught at E. C. Struggs, Dunbar, Alderson, Bozeman, Atkins, and many other schools. He kept up a hectic performance schedule with the Roy Roberts Combo, the JT Braxton Band and several other dance bands. He also played with the Lubbock Symphony Orchestra in the 1970's under the direction of William A. Harrod. James Braxton has been a favorite on Wayman Tisdale's Smooth Jazz Cruise, often joining his son, Tom, on stage. Braxton's influence as a music educator has been far reaching. Many of his former students have gone on to become music teachers, orchestra or band directors and even professional musicians. He retired in 1985 after 35 years of service with the Lubbock Independent School District; however he continued to perform and serve as a mentor for more than 30 years after his retirement from LISD. Today, he continues to serve as a member of Mt. Vernon's United Methodist Church where he has been the church's violinist for over 50 years.
Composer, producer and musician Thomas Braxton has been thrilling audiences of all ages from coast to coast and abroad for nearly two decades with his distinct melodic sound. He has been referred to as "one of smooth jazz's most prolific saxophonists." Tom grew up in Lubbock, Texas and was valedictorian of his 1979 class at Dunbar High School. As a young boy having a dream of becoming a jazz musician, he fortunately had a direct link to this creative art form through his dad, James ("J.T.") Braxton. "I have to credit my dad with connecting me to jazz at an early age. He introduced me to all the jazz legends: Lester Young, Miles, Coltrane, Charlie Parker, Stitt, Getz, Ben Webster, Coleman Hawkins, and many more. He would share how he had heard Count Basie and Duke's original bands and the great Ella Fitzgerald. He put the alto sax in my hands in the 6th grade, after I had been playing piano for two years." After graduating summa cum laude from Texas Tech University in 1983, Tom moved to Austin to pursue a career in music. He has recorded nine albums including The Other Side (2016 Sanae/Braxton collaboration), The Next Chapter (2014), Endless Highway (2009), and Imagine This (2007) on the Pacific Coast Jazz label and Bounce (2005) on the Rendezvous label. His latest release, The Other Side, is a collaborative project with label mate Robert Sanae. Braxton's music can be heard on the radio and television airwaves nationwide and his albums have hit numerous jazz charts including Billboard, RadioWave, SmoothJazz.com, Groove Jazz Music, Capital Jazz Radio and Amazon. He toured extensively with Wayman Tisdale for 17 years, also serving as Musical Director; has been a frequent featured performer on the Smooth Jazz Cruise since 2005; has performed as a headliner on the first Smooth Jazz Europe Festival in the Netherlands and the Nile Gold Jazz Safari in Uganda; was a featured performer on the Java Jazz Festival in Jakarta, Indonesia and the Stanbic Jazz Festival in Accra, Ghana. Tom has toured with Earl Klugh in South Africa, Malawi, Mozambique and Japan as well as with Keiko Matsui in Russia, Eastern Europe, Malaysia and Japan. Braxton has shared the stage with many great artists including Dave Koz, Rick Braun, Peter White, Brian Culbertson, Marcus Miller, Bob James, Kirk Whalum, Jonathan Butler, Jeff Golub as well as Aretha Franklin and Luther Vandross. Over the years, he has been featured in media and publications such as JAZZIZ, Smooth Jazz News, The Saxophone Journal, CBS's The Saturday Early Show, BET's Jazz Central, Ugandan Television and DayStar Television Network.