Our Iowa Heritage Index: Music – Music – Music.

As you can see, our growing website Our Iowa Heritage covers a lot of time (pre-1800 to the present) and a lot of people. We’ve written about famous people and the not-so-famous ones as well. Yet, despite a person’s prominence (or lack of it), everybody has a story. And as you read our posts, you’ll hopefully discover that everyone’s story is a good one. So, in order to better find these good stories and details surrounding them, we’ve added this INDEX of HISTORICAL ACCOUNTS to help you along the way. Enjoy your journey.

Our Iowa Heritage: An Introduction. We might suggest you start here! Here’s how & why I got started collecting stamps, coins, and other Iowa memorabilia.

Karl L. King – Iowa’s March King. In 1920, fresh off his gig as director of The Barnum & Bailey Circus Band, Ohio bandsman Karl King, came to Ft. Dodge, Iowa, setting up camp there for fifty-one years. Over that time, King established himself as Iowa’s March King, rivaling even the renowned John Philip Sousa as America’s most prolific composer of marches. In 1921, he helped pass The Iowa Band Law, which opened up opportunities for community bands nationwide.

Iowa’s Own Music Man – Meredith Willson. No list of famous Iowans can be complete without a big 76-trombone tribute to my very favorite – Meredith Willson of Mason City – better known to the world as Iowa’s Music Man. In 1957, his first Broadway show opened – becoming an overnight sensation – winning five Tony Awards, including Best Musical, and running for 1,375 performances.

The Big Show – Meredith Willson’s Big Stage. In the fall of 1950, NBC-Radio debuted The Big Show – a high-budget, star-studded variety show designed to stop the public’s infatuation with the latest innovation in home entertainment – the television. While the effort failed to save radio, the show produced an abundance of amazing moments, including the debut performances of Meredith Willson’s classics: May The Good Lord Bless And Keep You, and The Iowa Fight Song.

May The Good Lord Bless And Keep You. In November of 1950, The Big Show on NBC-Radio introduced Meredith Willson’s song of blessing in its closing segment. Within weeks, America had a new favorite song – one that has shown amazing staying power even to today.

Meredith Willson & The Iowa Hawkeyes. Everybody knows that Iowa’s Music Man – Meredith Willson – made it big on Broadway, but fewer know that he loved the University of Iowa Hawkeyes, writing The Iowa Fight Song in 1950 and directing The Hawkeye Marching Band on numerous occasions – including the 1957, 1959 & 1982 Rose Bowls.

My Meredith Willson – Music Man Story. I owe a big thank you to Meredith Willson and his best-known work – The Music Man. When the movie version appeared in 1962 – I was enthralled with this Iowa love story – choosing music as my primary passion when entering high school and college in Iowa City.

Simon Estes – From Centerville to Center Stage. Born in 1938 in Centerville, Iowa, Simon Estes is the son of a coal miner, with a grandfather who was once a slave sold for $500. Crediting his strong faith in God, Estes rose above the racial prejudice, finding his singing voice at SUI in 1961, before establishing himself as a world-renowned opera singer, with many calling him the finest baritone-bass in the world.

Our Hawkeye Sing-Along. At Homecoming 1962, The Daily Iowan published an article called “Sing Along with SUI’s Parade of Music”. Here four Hawkeye song classics and their stories were presented. Now, sixty years later, join us as we look once again at those memorable spirit-songs plus add another four to the list. From 1905 to 1985, the Hawkeyes have had some great (and not so great) chart-toppers. Clear your throat and come sing-along.

Marching, Musical, High-Stepping Hawkeyes. Originally a military unit, in 1937, the Hawkeye Marching Band transitioned to the School of Music and never looked back. In 1969, “I modestly took my place as the one and only bass” – actually there were a dozen of us in the sousaphone section – and we never looked back. Today, the HMB is a vital component to Iowa Football and everything Hawkeye.

Tom Davis – Our HMB Musical Mom. The Tom Davis-era (1968-1972) just might have been the golden age of the Hawkeye Marching Band. This jazz percussionist from Wyoming arranged some of the HMB’s best-known classics, including the timeless crowd-pleaser, Hey Jude.

The Music Man On Broadway – 2022. Sandy & I were honored to be a part of the first NYC tour group representing Meredith Willson’s hometown – Mason City – and the Hawkeye State at the newest Broadway revival of The Music Man – starring Hugh Jackman and Sutton Foster.


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