Oral History -

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Russell Kephart enjoyed his years as a band director but found great satisfaction when he opened his own music store and could provide the service he felt band directors were missing. The Iowa-based store expanded over the decades but always remained focused on customer service.

Lynn Kephart worked with her husband Russ to establish the Iowa-based Kephart Music Centers. Her attention to details was the perfect match for accounting, inventory and payroll in the pre-computer age. Her friends spanned the entire industry, retailers and suppliers alike, and she is often thought of fondly for her memorable dinner parties.

Ernie Kenaga was hired by Charlie Bickel at the Selmer Company following the end of his military service during World War II. At the time, 1946, Selmer had 80 employees including factory and office workers. Ernie began his career in the purchasing department and filled several positions before becoming the manager of the customer service department. He retired after serving the company for over 40 years.

Manfred Hibbing is known around the world as one of only a few top experts on RF Studio condenser microphones. He has designed and developed many award-winning innovations in microphone technology and he did it all at Sennheiser in Germany. Proud of his role in the company, he retired in 2005 from Sennheiser. His NAMM Oral History interview was completed on July 14, 2005.

Emerson DeFord may have made more hand-crafted flutes than anyone else. It is a strong statement, but then again he has produced flutes under such brand names as Deford and Emerson since 1952. The years have come and gone and still the master of the flute sat behind his bench hammering and cutting each and every part of the instrument, some 380 parts in all.

Rollie Bunn worked at Taylor Music in Aberdeen, South Dakota, when he was growing up and in fact returned to the store to work full time after attending Northern State Teacher’s College. During his college years he was a part time band director, which he enjoyed, before returning to Taylor. Ten years later in 1969, Rolli moved to Elkhart, Indiana, where he soon became the marketing manager for Selmer. The company had just purchased Premier Drums, and Rolli was in charge of product development.

Evelyn Brue-Roeder opened her music store in 1940! Her main focus in the early days was music lessons, however she soon added sheet music, accessories and musical instruments. She developed a passion for steel guitars as she witnessed their development over her career.

Yngwie Malmsteen is a ferociously talented guitar player, composer, and producer from Sweden. He first gained notoriety in the mid 1980’s when he exploded onto the music scene blending his mastery of neoclassical guitar technique with the heavy metal music genre.

Keith Wilson helped design and manufacture the famed SM57 and SM58 microphones for Shure back in the early 1960s. As an engineer, Keith later came up with the idea of creating a system for vocalists, with mixer, amplifier and a microphone that could cover the range of the human voice. The system soon became one of the company’s most successful.

William Tapia stood up in front of United States solders playing his ukulele and singing at the tender age of eight years old. He was entertaining the troops for World War I and did not stop playing until the year of his passing at the age of 103!  His life in music was almost as fasinating as his interest in sharing the gift of music to all those he met.