Oral History -

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This video is of our annual NAMM Tribute, created in honor of our members and music industry friends who passed away in 2019 and early 2020. This Tribute was shown for the first time at the NAMM Show in Anaheim, California on January 16, 2020. All moving images within this video indicate those who have been interviewed as part of the NAMM Oral History program.

Michael O’Dorn still remembers the moment he met one of his musical heroes, Merle Travis. Mr. Travis flicked a thumb pick to young Michael, who soon developed an even greater appreciation for the man and his music. The two became friends and Michael worked long and hard to understand and later teach the many guitar techniques that made Mr. Travis so unique.

Jonathan "Sugarfoot" Moffett grew up in New Orleans and used the style he developed in clubs, starting at the age of 10, to create a unique place in music history. His first significant recording in 1979 of “Don’t Stop the Music” by Yardbrough & Peoples led him to an introduction of the Jackson family and a world tour.

Ellen White did not work in the music store her husband Jerry operated for many years and yet her supportive role helped that little retail business grow into the White House of Music chain consisting of six store locations. Both Jerry and Ellen were teaching when Jerry decided to join his cousin in the music business.

Jerry White and his brothers all played musical instruments growing up on their family farm in Wisconsin. Their father was a professional musician who played in popular dance bands. Jerry and his wife, Ellen, both became schoolteachers and Jerry continued to play on the side.

Diane Johnson, who was born in Brooklyn, was living on Madison Avenue when she landed a job at Music Merchandise Review (MMR). The magazine’s office was located just around the corner on Lexington Avenue so Diane could walk to work each day. She served as the Office Manager for MMR from 1979 until 1985.

Martin Johnson served as publisher and, at times, editor for Piano Trades Magazine (PTM) from 1959 until 1967. He studied art in school and became editor of the college newspaper, which gave him the idea of seeking a career that combined his two main interests, art and writing.

Joe Abbati is a creative technologist/educator/electronic musician based in Miami. He has been a faculty member in the Music Engineering Technology Program at the highly acclaimed Frost School of Music for more than 20 years. As Director of the Contemporary Media Performance Studio he aspires to create new frontiers in the real-time performance of electronic music.

Shelly Berg is the Dean at the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami. Shelly is perfectly fitted for the position as his passion for the faculty, students and the ever-expanding programs and curriculum the school offers radiates off of him.

Ira Sullivan was just three years old when he pulled his father’s trumpet out from behind the couch and began blowing into it. His father began teaching him how to play and by the time little Ira was five, he was playing in his grandmother’s church. His first professional gig came when he was only 12!