The Recording Academy and GRAMMY Museum announced the 10 finalists for the 2023 Music Educator Award, and among those 10 is Western Carolina University’s Jack A. Eaddy Jr.
Eaddy is in his second year with WCU as the Director of Athletic Bands and the Pride of the Mountains Marching Band. “I’m blessed to be the leader of such a phenomenal organization,” Eaddy said. “The students come here because they want to be successful, they want to achieve excellence and they want to be challenged to perform at the highest level.”
Eaddy has continued the Pride of the Mountain’s legacy of excellence forged by band directors like Bob Buckner and David Starnes. Eaddy is a decorated music educator in his own right, boasting an impressive resume of accolades throughout his career as a band director, including the Florida Music Educators Association Tom Bishop Award.
Earlier this year, Eaddy became one of 1,205 nominees for the Recording Academy and GRAMMY Museum’s 2023 Music Educator Award, which honors educators who have made a lasting and significant impact on music education. Eaddy then became one of 207 quarterfinalists in June, one of 25 semifinalists in October and now he is one of ten finalists. The award recipient will be recognized at GRAMMY Week 2023, before the 65th GRAMMY Awards on Sunday, Feb. 5.
In addition to attending the GRAMMY’s, the recipient will be awarded a $10,000 honorarium and matching grant for their school's music program. The nine additional finalists will receive a $1,000 honorarium and matching grant.
Through this achievement, Eaddy’s contribution to WCU is more than monetary. George H. Brown, dean of the David Orr Belcher College of Fine and Performing Arts, recognizes the visibility and success this accomplishment brings to the university. “Jack is the only college professor in the entire list. Western Carolina University is the only university in the entire list,” Brown said. “So, if you think about the thousands and thousands of universities across the United States, from Research 1 institutions to small liberal arts, Western Carolina University has been highlighted because of Jack’s work as an example of what you can achieve when you truly care about your students and you are committed to growing the future artists of America.”
Eaddy’s commitment and compassion is what makes him a GRAMMY nominated music educator.
“I’ve always given a lot of myself, because I taught a lot of kids that needed a lot of love and support,” Eaddy said. “It’s not just being their teacher during class time, but being a mentor and a helper to them, making sure the students know that they are supported, and loved, and they can do great things through music. Everyone’s here because of their love of music.”
Eaddy has loved music his whole life, which put him on the path to becoming a music educator. “My dad was a band director and music was always a part of my life. My mom recently sent me this picture of a letter from one of my elementary school teachers basically saying, ‘You’re gonna do great things and I know you talk a lot about being a music educator; I know you’re gonna be a great one.’”
Eaddy’s teacher wrote into existence his path to becoming a finalist for a GRAMMY. Win or lose, Eaddy is celebrating his accomplishment as a top ten finalist out of 1,205 nominees. “It’s amazing to even be considered for something like this. It’s really cool. It really, really means a lot.”
And Eaddy wants to share the celebration. “It’s more than just me. I don’t think anyone gets into education for themselves. Me, in particular, I’ve been grateful to stand in front of some great people, and we have done some great things, and this is more of an award about them and their successes and things that we’ve been able to do together,” Eaddy said. “Hopefully, the students that I started teaching 20 years ago will feel that effect as well as the students I will teach 20 years from now. I feel like I’m also doing this for the community, and that they have my back and that they’re proud of our accomplishment.”
Eaddy is also celebrating with the people in his life who have encouraged him toward this accomplishment. “My friends and family are all so supportive. I went to lunch with a friend and he said, ‘Going to lunch with Dr. GRAMMY.’”
Eaddy is thankful to the university for showing support as well. “It’s cool that the university has been so supportive of me in this process and it’s really humbling. I know they support you, but to see them do it in action is very, very cool.”
According to Brown, supporting Eaddy is easy. “Jack Eaddy is one of the best hires I ever made in my career,” Brown said. “Jack is a phenomenal leader. He is a truly caring faculty member. He cares deeply about his students and I think you see that reflected in this nomination.”
Fingers crossed, Eaddy may enter the New Year with a GRAMMY, but for now, he is presenting at the Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic in Chicago, where more than 30,000 music educators, band directors and orchestra instructors come together for professional development and to network with top conductors and educators in the field, or as Eaddy calls them, “the Michael Jordans of the profession.”
It is fair to say, for the WCU community, Eaddy is a Michael Jordan of his profession.