Smith Fund Supports Rising Stars

Louis Smith was one of the greats of jazz. During his illustrious career, he performed with pretty much any big name you can think of. Later in his life, he chose to settle in Ann Arbor and concentrate on teaching, passing on his knowledge and love of jazz to new generations of young musicians. When Louis passed away in 2016, his wife Lulu expressed a desire to establish a scholarship Jake Leein his name to benefit students who needed financial help to pursue their musical ambitions. She asked SEMJA to help with this project, and so the Louis Smith Scholarship Fund was created. This year, two students will be the recipients of the first of these scholarships. Both of these young men participate in Jurt Harrisonprograms headed by local drummer Sean Dobbins.

Dobbins was first mentored by Smith at Forsyth Middle School. Smith taught him not only music, but how to live a good life, and, of course, how to dress. While becoming one the most in demand drummers in this area, Dobbins also chose to become a teacher, working with several area music programs at the middle school, high school and even college levels.

On Sunday, June 17, at 6:00 p.m. at Kerrytown Concert House, Dobbins will present a performance in his “Rising Stars” series, featuring some of the young musicians he has been teaching. At this performance, Kurt Harrison (right) and Jake Lee (above), both trumpet players, will be presented with scholarships allowing them to participate in summer jazz programs.

Harrison, 17, is an 11th-grader at the Detroit School for the Arts. He will use his scholarship to attend the Community Music School — Detroit Spartan Boot Camp. Lee, 16, is a 10th-grader at Huron and Community High Schools in Ann Arbor. His scholarship will allow him to participate in the AAPS Summer Music Program.

At the concert, both students will have the rare opportunity to play a trumpet that had belonged to and was played by Louis Smith. An anonymous donor, as part of the campaign to raise funds for the scholarships, purchased the trumpet. It was then most generously gifted to Dobbins in recognition of his close relationship with Smith.

SEMJA is very proud to be part of this project and to help these two students continue on their musical path. If you want to contribute further to the Louis Smith Scholarship Fund, please contact us.