Surrounded by family members of jazz great Joe Henderson, Lima City Schools officials named and dedicated the auditorium at Lima Senior High school the Joe Henderson Auditorium.
Staff, students, Henderson family members and members of the community celebrated Joe’s life at a dedication and ribbon cutting ceremony April 27.
Joe graduated from South High School in 1953. It was a South music teacher who introduced him to the tenor saxophone. He was playing in Detroit with famous jazz musicians by the time he was 18 years old.
After college and serving in the U.S. Army, where he performed for the troops around the world, Joe moved to New York City and his illustrious career took off. He began recording with Blue Note Records, and his first album “Page One” was released in 1963.
Joe went on to have a 40-year career that saw him composing, recording and performing with jazz greats from around the world. He recorded his last album in 1997.
Nominated for six Grammy Awards, he won four. Joe, a member of the Lima City Schools Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame, passed away in 2001.
The night featured the Lima Senior Jazz Band being the first to play in the new Joe Henderson Auditorium and a video message from 2010 Lima Senior graduate and professional musician Brandon Monford – known in the music world as Sax B.
The night also included a proclamation from the Mayor’s Office and speeches from Henderson family members and school officials.
“The Lima City Schools has seen so many outstanding people graduate from our halls and go on to do amazing things, and Joe Henderson is among those at the top,” Superintendent Jill Ackerman said. “It is so fitting that our student musicians will now and forever perform on the Joe Henderson Auditorium stage.”
Ackerman also announced that thanks to the Lima City Schools Foundation, a Joe Henderson Scholarship will be awarded to a graduating music student beginning next school year.
“This stage hosts nearly 20 student concerts and productions a school year, with hundreds of students from throughout the district singing, playing an instrument and appearing in plays and musicals,: Ackerman said. “We think Joe would be proud of not only this move to name the auditorium after him, but also of the strong arts program at his alma mater today.”
The night concluded with the Lima/Allen County Chamber of Commerce doing a ribbon cutting outside the auditorium, where a commemorative plaque and painting of Henderson now hangs.
The “Young Joe Henderson” painting was created by artist Frederick J. Brown during a visit to Lima in 2008. He was here doing a residency with students in the Lima City Schools. Brown was a nationally known artist who did an extensive portrait series of jazz and blues musicians and had done a Henderson portrait before coming to Lima. Brown died in 2012