Jazz Legend TeRoy Betton, Jr.
By Staff Writer
Sep 10, 2005, 00:03
TeRoy Betton, Jr.
The late TeRoy Betton, Jr., a musician, arranger, and composer, was known for his love of music and his outstanding performance in the field of music. He gained recognition as a distinguished trumpeter in the early 1950's in his home town of Little Rock, Arkansas and all throughout the region. In addition to the B-Flat trumpet, he performed solo work on the flugelhorn and the piccolo trumpet. While the trumpet was his first love, Betton also played the piano and knew how to play many other instruments. He shared his gift with children from across Arkansas and the nation. He taught private lessons in piano, woodwind, brass and percussion. In fact, the late great recording jazz artist Art Porter, Jr. took saxophone lessons from Betton as a young boy growing up in Little Rock. Dynamic drummer, Yvette “Baby Girl” Preyer, who plays for Grammy award winning recording artist Michael McDonald, also worked with Betton earlier in her career and admired him as a mentor in the field of music.
|Crescendojazz Photo: TeRoy Betton, Jr. |
Betton took his first piano lesson at age 4. His father ordered a trumpet for him when he was 10. When the trumpet arrived in the mail, he took it out of the box and immediately started playing sweet melodies, showcasing a gift that he carried throughout his life.
Amid the civil rights movement and the crisis at Central High School in Little Rock, Betton was one of the eligible black students who lived in the Central High attendance zone who was asked to enroll at the school during desegregation. When he learned that the African American students would not be allowed to participate in the extra curricula activities, including band, he declined attendance at Cenral High due to his love for music and remained at his high school, Horace Mann, before graduating from college and then graduate school.
Betton's musical talents touched the lives of many junior high, senior high and college level students across the nation. He was a dedicated band director and educator who challenged students to pursue excellence. He was also a faithful musician in his home church.
He continued his work in the entertainment industry and became the leader and manager for several music groups in the Little Rock area including TeRoy Betton and the Spiller's Allusion and The Fabulous Playboys. He also played trumpet with the Art Porter Trio.
A multi-faceted musician, Betton played with many world renowned performers such as Sammy Davis, Jr., Ray Charles, Nancy Wilson, The Spinners, and Gladys Knight and the Pips.
Betton was a member of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.
His musical career is on exhibit and featured in the Who’s Who in Arkansas Black History, presented by Emoba Museum of Black Arkansans located in Little Rock.
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