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Notable Alumni

" "James "Jimmy" McKissic
Renowned concert pianist, James Henry “Jimmy” McKissic. Received a B.S. in Music Education form A.M. &N. College (UAPB); followed by additional study at Berkeley, before receiving a Hertz Scholarship to further his piano and musical training in Geneva, Switzerland. He performed concerts all over the globe including Switzerland (Geneva, Lucerne, and Davos), Franc (Paris, Biarritz, Nice, and Cannes), Morocco, England, Kenya (Nairobi, Mombasa), Syria, Holland, Bangkok, Singapore and Brazil, among others. He performed in numerous cities and states in the USA including Arkansas, California, Mississippi, Texas and New York. During his lifetime, while spending 49 years of his life abroad Jimmy played for three U.S. presidents. He also performed 28 at Carnegie Hall in New York City.




" "James H. Leary 
James H. Leary is a double bass player and arranger/composer, who played with the Count Basie Orchestra, Nancy Wilson, Earl Hines, Bobby Hutcherson, Eddie Harris, Dizzy Gillespie with the San Francisco Pops conducted by Arthur Fiedler, Max Roach, Eddie Cleanhead Vinson, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Johnny Hartman, Major Lance, Johnny Taylor, Esther Phillips, Rosemary Clooney, Don Shirley, Broadway shows: Eubie!, They're Playing Our Song, Ain't Misbehavin', Bubbling Brown Sugar, Five Guys Named Moe, Timbuktu! with Eartha Kitt, Oakland Symphony Bass Section, Pharoah Sanders, Red Garland, Jaki Byard, Randy Weston, and John Handy.

Leary was born in Little Rock, Arkansas, and studied at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. He has won two Grammy Awards.




" "Sonelius Smith
A classically trained pianist, Sonelius Smith received a music scholarship to Arkansas AM&N College, now University of Arkansas in Pine Bluff, studying piano and theory with Josephus Robinson. Upon graduation Sonelius toured Europe with The New Directions, featuring John Stubblefield, James Leary, Larry Ross and Benjamin Jones. He then moved to New York.
 





" "Henry Wallace Shead, Sr.,
Henry Wallace Shead, Sr., whose musical repertoire is virtually unlimited, was a pianist, singer and songwriter extraordinaire Shead was awarded a scholarship to the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. After graduating He moved to Los Angeles where he made his acting debut appearing with Henry Fonda, Richard Dreyfuss and Jane Alexander in William Saroyan's "The Time of Your Life". He wrote and arranged music for stage plays and television He did studio work on a Johnny Mathis album, and recorded for the Liberty/United Artists and Cream labels. Shead created national radio jingles and appeared on network television with Dinah Shore, Johnny Carson and Jerry Lewis. He performed at parties for the Rockefellers, Pearl Bailey, the Carpenters, President Lyndon Johnson, President Bill Clinton, Henry Mancini, Sergio Mendes, Ed McMahon and Barbra Streisand. In 2006, Henry was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame.


" "Art Porter, Sr. 
Art Porter, Sr. was an American jazz pianist from Little Rock, Arkansas. He performed with the Art Porter Trio founded in 1962 and the Art Porter Singers, founded in 1976. Porter was also known as an educator and a 1954 alumnus of AM&N College with a BA in Music Education. He is known for his musical influence on former United States President Bill Clinton. In 1993, Porter received the inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award from the Arkansas Jazz and Heritage Foundation.





" "TeRoy Betton, Jr.
TeRoy Betton, Jr., a musician, arranger, and composer, was known for his love of music and his outstanding performance in the field of music. He gained recognition as a distinguished trumpeter in the early 1950's in his home town of Little Rock, Arkansas and all throughout the region. In addition to the B-Flat trumpet, he performed solo work on the flugelhorn and the piccolo trumpet. After graduating from AM&N college (UAPB), he continued his work in the entertainment industry and became the leader and manager for several music groups in the Little Rock area including TeRoy Betton and the Spiller's Allusion and The Fabulous Playboys. He also played trumpet with the Art Porter Trio. A multi-faceted musician, Betton played with many world renowned performers such as Sammy Davis, Jr., Ray Charles, Nancy Wilson, The Spinners, and Gladys Knight and the Pips.



" "Benjamin L. Pruitt, Sr.
Benjamin L. Pruitt, Sr. is a graduate of Arkansas Agricultural, Mechanical and Normal (AM&N) College, presently the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, and Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan. He is currently serving as the Director, Office of Fine Arts Education for the Detroit Public Schools and has distinguished himself as a music educator and musician since beginning his professional career in Arkansas in 1961. His teaching and performing experiences are extensive. He has played nationally and internationally with the likes of Luther Vandross, The Winans, Keith Washington, Michael Bolton, Toni Braxton, Paul Riser, Jenifer Holliday, Phyllis Hyman, Chuck Brown and Earl Klugh.




" "John Stubblefield 
John Stubblefield was an American jazz saxophonist, flautist, and oboist. Stubblefield was an adaptable musician; he was stationed with the World Saxophone Quartet (´86-´88), Reggie Workman (´89-´93), McCoy Tyner (´84 Clark), Freddie Hubbard (´85), and George Russell (´85).







" "W.R. "Smokie" Norful
Rev. W.R. "Smokie" Norful, Jr. catapulted on top of the gospel music scene over a decade ago, since then the 2 – time Grammy® award-winning recording artist has accomplished one feat after another. Today Smokie shows no sign of slowing down. The world-renowned vocalist, Pastor, educator and visionary now brings his music and ministry efforts towards global humanitarianism.

Norful launched his church Victory Cathedral Worship Center in Bolingbrook, IL on September 20, 2005 where he serves as Senior Pastor. Since its launch, Norful and the Victory Cathedral Church Family have experienced an extraordinary and unprecedented growth in this community. He launched a second campus on the south side of Chicago in September 2008. The ministry has been focused on reaching the community and encouraging its members to live a life to be remembered through volunteerism, charity and philanthropy via their “Give Yourself Away” initiative.

Norful is an educator at heart. Having received his degree in history from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, Norful went on to teach for seven years. He attended both Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary (in Evanston, IL) and Trinity International Seminary (in Deerfield, IL) and formerly served the board of Regents for Trinity International University.

" "Jonathan White
Jonathan White is a jazz saxophonist. “Jwhite” graduated from UAPB with a degree in music in 2004. He was a member of M4, the Jazz Ensemble and the Wind Ensemble.


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Larry Braggs

Larry Braggs is a first generation college graduate. He attained a degree in music at UAPB. He is the lead singer in the famed jazz band Tower of Power.





Contact Us

Department of Music  University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff
(870) 575-7001
Dr. Richard Bailey, Chairperson