Dr. Jerry Payne Fine Arts Center

payneDr. Jerry Payne served as Director of Bands in Marshall ISD from 1977-2002 and built the program literally from the ground up into one of the most respected high school bands in the state.

Born in Ruston, La., on December 10, 1935, young Jerry started his music career in the sixth grade with the use of a $30 used metal clarinet but later picked up his instrument of choice, the saxophone. Like many other young musicians at that time, Payne hoped to be a professional saxophone player and was a member of a high school dance band known as “David Ward and His Rhythm Ramblers,” as well as becoming the student leader of a group known as the “Demonaires” in college at Northwestern State College. A bad experience in high school band as a student convinced him to study music and become a student teacher while at Northwestern State College in Natchitoches, La.

After graduation from Northwestern, he married his college sweetheart, Marilyn Pippen, and three days later began his teaching career at Alexandria Junior High. After 10 years at AJH, he returned to Northwestern for graduate work and earned his Master of Music Education and Specialist in Education degrees. He returned to Alexandria and helped open a new high school, Alexandria Senior High, which he quickly built into one of the best bands in the state.

After receiving the Doctor of Education degree from Northwestern in 1973, Payne finished his final four years in Louisiana as Director of Bands at Northwestern State University, his alma mater. He then retired in Louisiana and moved to Marshall, Texas, hoping to rebuild a struggling band program. He and his loyal staff composed of Al Hobson, Rick White, Anthony Robinson, Josie Ross, Beth Bienvenu, and Terry Hopkins, worked diligently for 25 years to restore the Marshall band program to a place of respectability.

Under his leadership, the program developed into one of the finest in the state. The band program grew in size and quality and earned numerous UIL Sweepstakes awards. Fourteen years after his Alexandria Band was the Louisiana Honor Band at Four States, his Marshall Band was selected as the Texas Honor Band. The Marshall High School Band regularly performed with guest artists of national prominence, including Wayne Dyess, Norman Brentley, Donald Sinta, and Tommy Newsom.

Dr. Payne was honored in 1987 by having his name placed on the "Wall of Distinction" at the Marshall Courthouse Museum under the category of "Composer-Conductor." In 1990, he was the first inductee into the Band Directors' Hall of Fame at his alma mater, Northwestern State University.

Upon his retirement in June 2002, he was greatly honored by his students over the previous 45 years, family, friends, and colleagues with a Surprise Retirement Party including a 100-plus member "Tribute Band," comprised of former students from Louisiana and Texas spanning his career. The Tribute Band performed a special composition, "Reflections of an Era", composed for the occasion by former Marshall High School student, Key Poulan. Dr. and Mrs. Payne were presented with an all-expense paid trip to Europe as a retirement gift from his former students.

In 2002, he was inducted into the Louisiana Music Educators Hall of Fame and with his induction to the Texas Bandmasters Hall of Fame in 2004, he became a member of the Hall of Fame in two separate states. In 2016, Dr. Payne was inducted into the Mrs. H.D. Dear Sr. and Alice Estelle Dear School of Creative and Performing Arts Hall of Fame at Northwestern, for his lifelong contributions to the arts.

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