LaVerne Newsome

1907 - 2001

Class of 2018

Performing Arts - Music Educator

First African-American member of the Philharmonic Orchestra of Indianapolis

Taught and mentored thousands of students, including trombonist J.J. Johnson, Virgil Jones, trumpet, and guitarist Wes Montgomery

LaVerne Newsome, Performing Arts-Educator, was a musician and educator who touched the lives of countless aspiring musicians.

 

Born in Elgin on Oct. 21, 1907, "Mr. Newsome provided encouragement, guidance, hope, a sense of direction, and a sense of worth to me and countless black youths who were under his tutelage," wrote a former student, Professor David Baker.

 

Newsome graduated from Elgin High School and received bachelor and master of arts degrees in music education from Northwestern. He taught at Alabama's Talladega College until 1937 when he moved to Indianapolis.

 

There he was orchestra director and music department chair at Crispus Attucks High School, the city's first all-black high school. For 37 years, he taught and mentored thousands of students, including trombonist J.J. Johnson, Virgil Jones, trumpet, and guitarist Wes Montgomery.

 

An accomplished violinist, Newsome was the first African-American member of the Philharmonic Orchestra of Indianapolis, a position he held until 1992. He frequently returned to Elgin to play violin at his parent's home for their annual music teas to benefit the St. James AME Church.

 

Newsome died on Aug. 25, 2001.

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