Conrad Johnson & The Kashmere Stage Band

Mike Lawson • Archives • November 1, 2006

Many school bands of that time integrated funk into their repertoire, many recorded albums, and many tried to present "hep" stage shows. Led by Conrad O. Johnson ("Prof"), KSB did all those things and then some, becoming a fearsome musical juggernaut whose impact still resonates today. Winning 42 out of 46 major contests, touring nationally and throughout Europe, and recording eight benchmark albums that have become jealously hoarded and aggressively sought-after by some of today's most significant hip hop acts and DJs, KSB truly transcended the notion of "school band."

Conrad Johnson's journey as a music educator began in 1941 and, though he stepped down from his position at Kashmere High School in 1979, he has remained active as a teacher, performer, and – perhaps more than anything else – inspiration. SBO recently spoke with Mr. Johnson about his life in music and, more specifically, about the unparalleled levels of achievement he was able to coax out of his Kashmere High student musicians, year after year.

SBO: Can you talk a little bit about your own introduction to music performance and education? Who were some of your early teachers? How did you get exposed to music?
Conrad Johnson: My father, Dr. Charles Johnson, was a musician and music educator here in Houston, in addition to being a practicing dentist. He was a trumpet player and singer with a beautiful operatic Italian tenor voice. He was also the band director at Jack Yates high school back in the early 1930s. So as a result, all of his children were exposed to music just by being part of the family.

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