The Charles E. Lutton Man of Music Award is the highest honor Phi Mu Alpha can bestow upon one of its members. The special award is given once every three years to a Sinfonian who, through performance, composition, or any other significant musical activity, has distinguished himself and thus furthered the cause of music in America and brought honor to the Fraternity.
At the 55th National Convention, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity is pleased to bestow this high honor upon
Ellis Marsalis, Jr.
Epsilon Lambda (University of Georgia) ’65
Born in 1934, Ellis Marsalis, Jr. has been active in the jazz world for nearly 70 years. Brother Marsalis came to greater attention in the 1980s and 1990s as the patriarch of what some call the quintessential jazz music family, which includes his sons Jason Marsalis on percussion, Delfayo Marsalis on trombone, Wynton Marsalis on trumpet, and Branford Marsalis, Mu Psi (Southern University) ’79, on saxophone.
Brother Marsalis is a true exemplar of the ideals and mission of Sinfonia, and nothing could be more fitting than presenting the Man of Music award to him in his hometown of New Orleans, where he previously received the National Citation at Leadership Conclave in 1998.
Brother Ellis Marsalis is the embodiment of the concept of “Living the Object,” and has been a a constant example of the great ideals of Sinfonia and our Brotherhood in music. From his early days as a music student at Dillard University, through his service to his country in the United States Marine Corps, Brother Marsalis has influenced thousands of lives and careers in music. In the 1970s Ellis began studying music education at New Orleans’ Loyola University, and in 1974, his future began to take shape as the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts named him director of its newly formed jazz studies program. It is here where Brother Marsalis found his calling as an music advocate, seeking to inspire the hearts of youth. From his position with the CCA, through his 1989 appointment to a teaching position for Jazz Studies at the University of New Orleans, to his current involvement with the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music that provides a safe, positive environment where underserved children and youth can develop musically, academically, and socially, Ellis has made a very real impact in the lives of countless music lovers, including some of his more notable students such as pianist and vocalist Harry Connick, Jr., trumpeter Terence Blanchard, and of course, his four sons.
Brother Marsalis has worked to promote music tirelessly during his accomplished career, and his artistry is renowned the world over. He has personally helped generations of young musicians hone their skills by selflessly sharing his wisdom and experience, all while demanding the highest musical and personal standards. All throughout his efforts to win the world to Harmony, Brother Marsalis has shown the grace and humility that encourage us to remember that the music is more important than the accolades it may bring, and to conduct ourselves with the truest fraternal spirit at all times. At 80 years of age, Brother Marsalis continues to find the determination and will to bring the joy of music to his community by performing each week, lifting the spirits of those who sorely need the relief it provides.
Though he has recorded almost twenty of his own albums, and was featured on many discs with such jazz greats as David “Fathead” Newman, Eddie Harris, Marcus Roberts, and Courtney Pine, he shunned the spotlight to focus on teaching. Marsalis’s didactic approach, combined with an interest in philosophy, encourages his students to make discoveries in music on their own, through experiment and careful listening.
“I never thought of myself as a teacher. I used to always look at myself as being a coach. Not devoid of instruction, but I was never that organized in my approach to what I was doing. I always tried to key off of wherever the student was and just figure out what I needed to present to them to move from point A to B.”
— Ellis Marsalis
Among numerous others prominent distinctions, Brother Marsalis is the recipient of five Honorary Doctorate degrees: from his alma mater Dillard University of New Orleans (1989); Ball State University (1997); Virginia Commonwealth University (2010); Tulane University (2007), and The Julliard School (2003), all for his contributions to jazz and musical education.
In December of 2008, Ellis Marsalis was inducted into The Louisiana Music Hall of Fame, and in 2011, Brother Ellis and his sons were named the first ever group recipients of the 2011 NEA Jazz Masters Award, the highest honor that our nation bestows on jazz artists.
Come all and join us in celebration of this great award, and the continuance of the Object of Phi Mu Alpha through the contributions of men like Brother Marsalis. May we all strive to emulate our great Brother, and to Live the Object in our daily lives. We hope to see you in New Orleans this summer, where this award will be presented to Ellis Marsalis, and where we can all enjoy and experience the greatest of our ideals to come together to Sing as One!
Alpha Rho (North Carolina) 1932
Iota (Northwestern) 1916
Earl V. Moore
Epsilon (Michigan) 1914
Iota (Northwestern) 1910
Joseph E. Maddy
Epsilon (Michigan) 1927
Alpha Chi (Tulsa) 1958
Archie N. Jones
Alpha Mu (Minnesota) 1929
Gamma Delta (Murray State) 1938
Alpha Upsilon (Arizona) 1961
Epsilon Iota (Florida State) 1963
Delta Lambda (Ball State) 1961
James L. Levine
Alpha Alpha (National Honorary) 1972
Alpha Beta (Drake University) 1954
Beta Zeta (College of Emporia) 1968
W. Francis McBeth
Alpha Iota (UT-Austin) 1957
Beta Chi (University of Colorado) 1953
Alpha Lambda (Illinois Wesleyan) 1935
Alpha Alpha (National Honorary) 1987
John R. Bourgeois
Zeta Pi (Loyola University) 1956
Alpha Nu (Eastman) 1934
Xi Chi (Tennessee Tech) 1976
Gamma Omega (Indiana State) 1976
Epsilon Iota (Florida State) 1957