The Lied Center of Kansas is proud to announce Black Violin and Deborah Woodall Routledge as the recipients of the 2017–2018 IMPACT Awards.
This is the fourth season the Lied Center has recognized one artist or group for distinguished service to the performing arts and one USD 497 educator for distinguished service to arts education.
“Black Violin and Deborah Woodall Routledge exemplify the absolute best in the performing arts and arts education. It is a privilege for the Lied Center of Kansas to recognize them for inspiring creativity in our community and throughout the world,” said Executive Director Derek Kwan.
Black Violin is composed of classically trained violist and violinist Wil Baptiste (Wil B.) and Kevin (Kev Marcus) Sylvester who combine their classical training and hip-hop influences to create a distinctive multi-genre sound that is often described as “classical boom”—blending classical, hip-hop, R&B, rock and bluegrass music. Live, they are accompanied by their incredible band, featuring ace turntable whiz DJ SPS and drummer Nat Stokes. Named one of the hottest bands at South by Southwest (SXSW) in 2013, the group was invited to perform at Bonnaroo and returned to SXSW to standing-room-only crowds. In addition to their amazing and influential talents, Wil B. and Kev Marcus are diligent advocates for educational outreach in performing arts. The music group has performed for more than 100,000 students in North America and Europe in the past 12 months, including being the featured musical act for the Blue Ribbon Festival at the Music Center in Los Angeles, where they performed for 19,000 fifth-grade students from the Greater Los Angeles area over a three-day period. The band is endorsed by Yamaha Music, and has partnered with the National Association for Music Manufacturers (NAMM) to continue their advocacy for accessible music education. Black Violin has also had a long-standing relationship with the Lied Center and USD 497 students, performing in the Lied Center’s 2011 School Performance Series to over 3,000 elementary school students, and performing at both Lawrence High School and Free State High School in 2015. Most recently, a group of Lawrence High School and Free State High School orchestra students had the opportunity to perform with Black Violin during a concert at the Lied Center on September 22, 2017. Many of these student musicians had attended school performances of Black Violin over the last several years.
Deborah Woodall Routledge has been teaching band for 28 years and has been at Southwest Middle School since its opening in 1995. She graduated from the University of Central Arkansas with a Bachelor of Music Education degree and earned her Master of Music Education degree from the University of Kansas. In her extensive teaching career, she has taught in Oklahoma, Arkansas and Kansas, and has received awards, such as Northeast Kansas Music Educators Middle School Band Teacher of the year in 2013–14 and Lawrence Teacher of the Month in August 2016. Under her direction, the Southwest Middle School band has won numerous awards and performed at the 2000 Kansas Music Educators Conference. She has also served on the Executive Committee for the Kansas John Philip Sousa Junior Honor Band for the past 16 years. Routledge commented on her enthusiasm for the Lied Center and the benefits it provides for her students: “I will never forget the first time I walked into the Lied Center of Kansas, I thought to myself, this is a game changer for Lawrence. My students and I are going to come here and be truly inspired by the performances!” She also coaches boys and girls tennis at Southwest Middle School. As the educator honoree, Routledge receives a complimentary pair of tickets to each main stage Lied Center performance during the 2017–2018 season.
Each year, after the season is booked, the Lied Center administration selects up to five artists or groups to be considered for the IMPACT Award based upon the established criteria of leadership in their field, artistic integrity, commitment to arts education and the creation of new and innovative work. In August, all current and former Friends of the Lied board members vote for one of the nominees via electronic ballot. The educator is selected with the assistance of USD 497 ambassadors to the Lied Center and the Adventures in Imagination Board. This selection is based on the teacher’s service to arts education. This year’s recipients will be added to the list of esteemed artists and educators, including Wynton Marsalis, Branford Marsalis, Imani Winds and USD 497 educators Lois Orth-Lopes, Dani Lotton-Barker and Sara Bonner.