The Lied Center of Kansas has named Terence Blanchard, renowned composer and trumpeter, and Melissa Smith, assistant director of bands at Lawrence Free State High School and West Middle School, as the 2023–24 season’s IMPACT Award recipients. Each season, the Lied Center recognizes one artist or group for distinguished service to the performing arts and one USD 497 educator for distinguished service to arts education.
The IMPACT Awards will be presented on November 2, at Terence Blanchard’s “Film Scores Live!” performance at the Lied Center. “Melissa Smith is truly an unsung hero in our community’s music education circles. From jazz to film scoring and opera, there is not a current artist who is more versatile and impactful than Terence Blanchard,” Derek Kwan, Lied Center executive director, said of the recipients.
Terence Blanchard, seven-time Grammy winner and twice Oscar-nominated film composer, stands tall as one of jazz’s most-esteemed trumpeters and defies expectations by creating a spectrum of artistic pursuits. Blanchard, who is the newly appointed SFJAZZ executive artistic director, is unique in the jazz world as an artist whose creative endeavors go far beyond the genre into film scoring, crafting television series soundscapes and conceiving grand operas that have been recognized at the highest levels of art appreciation. With over 75 credits to his name to date, his major scores include Spike Lee joints such as “BlacKkKlansman,” “Da 5 Bloods,” “Mo Better Blues” and “25th Hour;” Kasi Lemmons films such as “Eve’s Bayou” and “Harriet;” along with scores for Regina King (“One Night In Miami”), George Lucas (“Red Tails”) and Gina Prince (“The Woman King”). He was nominated for a best-score Oscar for “BlacKkKlansman” (2018) and “Da 5 Bloods” (2020). One of his opera’s, “Fire Shut Up in My Bones,” opened New York’s Metropolitan Opera House 2021–22 season—the first time an opera by an African American composer graced the Met’s stage in its 136-year history. As an educator, Blanchard was recognized in 2019 as the Kenny Burrell Chair in jazz studies at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music, after serving as artistic director of the Berklee College of Music (2015–2018), the Henry Mancini Institute at the University of Miami (2011–2014) and the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz (2000–2011).
In her 32nd year in music education, Melissa Smith came to Lawrence from Boone High School in Boone, Iowa, where she was the director of bands for ten years. Prior to her time in Iowa, Smith directed bands in Moody, Texas; served as assistant director of bands, director of orchestras, and managed the winter drumline and color guards at her alma mater in Danville, Illinois; and began her teaching career in Highland, Illinois. Bands, ensembles and students have received superior ratings and many accolades under her direction. She is also currently the color guard instructor for the Marching Jayhawks at the University of Kansas and for the Marching Firebirds at Lawrence Free State High School. Smith holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music education from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana. As an accomplished oboist, Smith is currently a member of the Lawrence Community Orchestra and Crossroad Symphony Wind Ensemble. She has been a longtime advocate of the Lied Center and the performing arts in education.
Each year, the Lied Center selects up to five artists or groups from the current season to be considered for the IMPACT Award based upon the criteria of leadership in their field, artistic integrity, commitment to arts education and the creation of new and innovative work. In the fall, 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 as well as past IMPACT winners. This selection is based on the teacher’s service to arts education. The honorees are presented their awards on stage at the winning artist’s Lied Center performance. This year’s winners will be added to the list of esteemed recipients, such as the Dancing Wheels Company, Emmet Cohen, Samuel Ramey, Joshua Bell, Black Violin and Wynton Marsalis; and USD 497 educators Lysette DeBoard, Rachel Downs-Doubrava, Peter Gipson, Johannah Cox, Deborah Woodall Routledge, Sara Bonner, Dani Lotton- Barker and Lois Orth-Lopes.
Tickets for Terence Blanchard’s “Film Scores Live!” on November 2 can be purchased at lied.ku.edu or the Lied Center Ticket Office. The performance will feature Blanchard playing his movie music along with his ensemble, the E-Collective, and the Lawrence Community Orchestra.
In conjunction with “Film Scores Live!”, the Lied Center will host a conversation event with Blanchard and Oscar-winner Kevin Willmott on November 1 at 4 p.m. — free and open to the public. Learn more at lied.ku.edu.