Lionel and the University of Idaho
For nearly 20 years, Lionel Hampton and the University of Idaho partnered to showcase America’s jazz music tradition and promote music education. The Lionel Hampton International Jazz Festival at the University of Idaho has become a nationally acclaimed event, featuring four days of concerts, clinics and student competitions.
- 1984—Lionel Hampton and his New York Big Band make their first appearance at the University of Idaho Jazz Festival. Hampton and his band continue to return annually.
- 1985—Hampton and Jazz Festival Executive Director Lynn J. Skinner begin a close association in producing and expanding the festival. The festival is named the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival.
- 1987—The University of Idaho names its School of Music after Hampton. The Lionel Hampton School of Music is the only such school named after a jazz musician. Six thousand students take part in the festival that year.
- 1988—Hampton receives an honorary doctorate from UI.
- 1992—Hampton designates UI as the recipient of his personal papers and memorabilia. They will become part of the UI’s International Jazz Collections.
- 1996—Festival expands from three to four days of student competitions with more than 12,000 student musicians attending the festival. The Jazz in the Schools program is initiated and Hampton begins an annual tradition of performing at Lapwai Elementary School on the Nez Perce Indian Reservation. The National Medal of the Arts is awarded to Lionel Hampton to honor his contributions to American music.
- 1998—A fourth day of student competitions is added for elementary, middle and junior high student groups.
- 1999—More than 850 student groups register to participate in the festival.
- 2000—The first Lionel Hampton Scholarship is awarded to trumpeter Igmar “Snooky” Thomas.
- 2001—The UI Alumni Association names Hampton the recipient of the Distinguished Idahoan Award, recognizing Hampton’s international reputation, and the extraordinary service and distinction he has brought to UI and the state of Idaho. The Lionel Hampton Center initiative is announced in a national effort to raise endowment funds for the Jazz Festival, School of Music, and the International Jazz Collections, and to build a performing arts center on campus.
- 2002—On February 23 Lionel takes the stage and leads his big band in a jaw dropping finale at the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival, in what would prove to be his final public performance. On August 31, Lionel Hampton passed away.
- 2006—The Lionel Hampton International Jazz Festival is renamed.
- 2007—The National Medal of the Arts is awarded to the Lionel Hampton International Jazz Festival to honor the legacy of jazz music education at the University of Idaho. This is the first time that the nation’s most prestigious arts award has recognized the contributions of a program at a public university.