1997 Regular Session

To: Rules

By: Senator(s) Horhn, Hall, Simmons, Walls, Frazier

Senate Concurrent Resolution 557

(As Adopted by Senate and House)


WHEREAS, Kermit Wells Holly, Sr., well-known musician, educator, composer, arranger, conductor, singer, organist, pianist, concert violinist, band and choir director and classroom teacher, passed away on September 28, 1995; and

WHEREAS, the only child of Harvey and Abi Ellen Wells Holly, he was born on February 9, 1908, in Jackson, Mississippi, attended Old Jim Hill Elementary School through fourth grade and Jackson College Grade School through twelfth grade, graduating in 1926; he earned a Bachelor's Degree at Clark College, Atlanta, Georgia, a Master of Music Degree at Chicago Musical College, Chicago, Illinois, and returned to Chicago Musical College for further study in the summers of 1940, 1941 and 1948; in 1946 he studied by correspondence course from the Peabody School of Music; in 1966 he attended the Richmond Professional School of Music; and

WHEREAS, Holly's musical rhythmic interest was obvious at the age of five to his mother and she began teaching him to play piano; he began studying violin and all phases of music in 1921 under the direction of Dr. Fredrick Douglas Hall, Chairman of Jackson College Music Department, studied violin from 12 years of age at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, under Dr. Kemper Harreld, and became the first chair violinist in the Jackson College Orchestra; and

WHEREAS, Holly began his teaching career at Clark College in Atlanta, Georgia, returning to Jackson College, Jackson, Mississippi, in 1930 during the administration of President B.B. Dansby; he reorganized the college orchestra and band, and organized the college quartet. Under his leadership Jackson College was recognized throughout the state for superiority; he performed as a concert solo violinist, along with the college quartet on tours across the State of Mississippi and throughout the southern and midwestern states, performing in churches, public and private schools, colleges, civic centers and courthouses; and

WHEREAS, Holly organized and directed the first W.P.A. Chorus and Band through W.P.A. funding, organized and directed the first Black All City Orchestra and traveled across the State of Mississippi teaching music theory and English in the Jackson College extension schools; and

WHEREAS, in 1937 Holly joined the faculty at Alcorn College, presently Alcorn State University, Lorman, Mississippi, where he organized the 72-piece Alcorn Marching Band, Orchestra, Dance Band, and The Purple and Gold Serenaders; the marching band traveled throughout the state and south; they were referred to as the U.S.A. Marching Band; they became the first African-American college band to march downtown Jackson Capitol Street; the Alcorn College Dance Band was very popular and in demand throughout the state and south; the dance band was inducted into the military in World War II as a complete unit; and

WHEREAS, Holly returned to Jackson, Mississippi, in 1941, and resumed teaching in the Jackson Public School System and part-time at Jackson College (1941-1952); he was director of the Lanier High School band and choir, which became consistent winners of music festivals. He was one of the three organizers of state choir and band festivals and served as an adjudicator of these festivals. During the 40's and 50's Holly traveled to other places across the state teaching instrumental music: Prentiss Institute, Prentiss, Mississippi; Utica Institute, Utica, Mississippi; Alexander High School, Brookhaven, Mississippi; and Oakley Training School for Boys, Raymond, Mississippi; and

WHEREAS, Holly organized and developed the instrumental music program for African-Americans in the Jackson Public School System, the first choir and band for junior and senior high schools. Between 1962-1973 Holly initiated a string orchestra program for white and African-American junior high school students and traveled between the schools daily to teach strings; and

WHEREAS, Holly retired in 1973 after 46 years in the field of music education. He is considered the father of musicians for African-Americans in Jackson and across the State of Mississippi. Perhaps his greatest contribution to music throughout the State of Mississippi is his role as a mentor and model for students under his noted teaching ability, many of whom have become famous in all areas and walks of life across the United States; and

WHEREAS, a member of Central United Methodist Church, Holly is survived by three sons and one daughter; and

WHEREAS, the Legislature takes great pride in acknowledging the contributions of this music educator to the development of the African-American youth of his home State of Mississippi:

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE MISSISSIPPI STATE SENATE, THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES CONCURRING THEREIN, That we do hereby commend the life and career of music educator Kermit Wells Holly, Sr., of Jackson, Mississippi, who is considered the father of musicians for African-Americans in Jackson and across the State of Mississippi.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That copies of this resolution be forwarded to the family of Mr. Holly and copies be made available to the Capitol Press Corps.