Oral History -

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Leita Jolly was celebrating her 100th birthday the week she was interviewed in 2003. On the occasion, she played the piano for her friends with her ragtime flare. In 1917, while World War I was ending, Leita was hired as a song plugger.

Dr. Mable John is a person that plays many roles to a wide variety of people. She is a singer, songwriter, arranger, producer, author, educator, leader, minister, mentor, and a friend. Her career as a backup singer and soloist broke ground at Stax Records, with Ray Charles and in the church. Graceful and always respected, Dr.

Ray Jent sought to bring service to the Lubbock, Texas, community when he opened a music retail store just after serving in World War II. Ray worked closely with the school band directors and local music teachers to ensure that his inventory and services matched their needs.

Art Jenson was known throughout the music industry for establishing Jenson Publishing in 1977. The company became one of the nation’s largest educational music publishers with a focus on band and choral works. In the mid '60's, Art did some writing for Charles Hansen Publications and in 1969, he joined the editorial staff of Zeb Billings Music Publishing.  In 1970, Art along with Keith and Don Mardak started Learning Unlimited, which became a division of Hal Leonard Publishing Corp.  They pioneered the print industry with several innovations including sending audio recordings of the music with each book. Art left in 1976 to start Jenson Publishing, which he eventually sold to Hal Leonard in 1989.  Art stayed on with Hal Leonard and played a vital role in creating the Essential Elements Band series in which he took great pride. Art retired in 1991.

Stanley Jay always admired rare and special fretted musical instruments, so it came as no surprise when he and his friend, Haf Kuffner, opened a guitar shop on Staten Island in New York. They named the store the Mandolin Brothers.

Dennis James recalls with a smile the day he visited Colton Piano as a teenager. He later worked for Colton founder, Vern Schaffer, getting the experience and training for the career he had dreamed of--opening his own piano and organ retail store. That dream was realized in northern San Diego County in 1992 when he opened The Piano Warehouse. The store grew as the surrounding cities, such as San Marcos and Vista, continued to grow. A new building was completed in 2004 in the lot next to his first location.

Grover Jackson grew up outside of Nashville, TN and developed a strong and lasting passion for music, not just playing it in noted bands, but in designing instruments to achieve creative sounds. His powerful playing and early involvement in heavy rock music led to requests from noted players for Grover to make them guitars. His style included thin bodies and progressive colors and images – and the instruments came along just when MTV was born and metal bands almost always played a Jackson-Charvel guitar.

Dale Hyatt was hired by Leo Fender while the iconic guitar builder was still a radio repairman in Fullerton, CA. The year was 1948. Dale recalled all of the major landmarks that helped establish the development of the Stratocaster and the birth of rock and roll. Dale remained with Leo as he established The Music Man and with Fender when it was sold to CBS Musical Instruments.

Joe Hume was a veteran school band director before he opened Hume Music located in Kansas. His love of school bands continued as a retailer and as such he established new bands and expanded several other smaller school bands. Joe saw the importance of being a strong supporter of the school band directors and participating in as many programs and events as possible.

Richard Myrland was a wizard, just as his name suggested! As a product designer for Wurlitzer, Dick created the famed 1050 juke box. With his devotion to the “Wurlitzer Way” credo, he, as much as anyone at the Wurlitzer Company, cultivated the warm sense of family within the company and along the way (1953-1981) became one of the company’s best loved employees.

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