I had a college professor tell me once, “Remember, you are changing your generation and the generations of the people around you.” Those words are so true and are still relevant in my life today. In fact, that professor was living proof of that statement by changing my life with mentoring, advising, and pushing me to be better.
It was not just that one professor, of course. There were (and still are) many people who continually wanted to invest in me as I grew up here.
My father and mother met at Lambuth University, but my dad was not in school there; he had just started a career in law enforcement. My mother grew up in New Jersey and was recruited to attend Lambuth in the late 1960s. Funnily enough, they met on a blind date, which is a whole other story.
After my mother graduated and found a job as a public school teacher, they got married, and several years later, I arrived. Because my mother was a teacher, I attended public school at J.B. Young Elementary (which was in Bemis), South Side Junior High, and South Side High School. I loved my school experience, teachers, and classmates.
The last month or so of high school was an exciting time for me. I was preparing for the future, which included starting college and finding a job that would challenge me. Once I graduated, I had a plan in place and was ready to tackle the world.
However, as most of us find out, plans change, and mine mostly certainly did.
I attended college at Lambuth University like my mother, and it was an honor to be a small part of its history. I had top-notch professors who poured knowledge and encouragement into me. I was a music major with a concentration in classical guitar performance studying with Tom Price. I met my future wife, Allison, and we started to plan a life together.
Lambuth University honored me with several awards over the course of my undergraduate career, which included the senior music award, an Oxford Scholar distinction, and being chosen as the student commencement speaker for my graduating class.
After college, I decided to take some time off from school and improve myself as a performer. I wanted to gain experiences as a working musician. Jackson has always had a rich music history and community; there is definitely something in the water here. For two years, I practiced, performed, travelled, and recorded. The next plan was to enter graduate school, and the University of Memphis had (and still has) one of the best musicology departments in the world. It was my first choice, and they embraced me with open arms. Not only did I finish my master’s degree, but I also completed my Ph.D. while teaching classes at the university. I gained more invaluable experiences, relationships, and knowledge by being a touring professional musician while living in Memphis for twelve years.
Almost immediately after graduating with my doctorate in 2008, Lambuth called me home to teach. I had the wonderful opportunity to return home and start a commercial music program with one of my best friends, Dr. Brandon Goff. The students and faculty were gracious as I learned the ropes, and it was a fantastic time of my life.
Unfortunately, in the spring of 2011, Lambuth announced that it was filing bankruptcy. It was a very difficult time during that transition, not only for the faculty, staff, and students, but also for the community and the alumni. Thankfully, the University of Memphis helped secure the campus and kept the name Lambuth attached. Additionally, the university hired many of the faculty from Lambuth, including yours truly. We have something very special here; it’s very unique.
Since then, the last seven years have been so rewarding. I absolutely love my students, my fellow musicians, my colleagues, and my musical career. The program that I direct, Music and Entertainment, has flourished and produced some amazing talent so far, and it does not appear to be slowing down. We are active, driven, and working hard to be the best music program. We host community events including the Tennessee Music Awards, Our Jackson Home Holiday Show, and student concerts by our very own Generations Ensemble.
A student came to me several years ago, and said, “We need a better system of communication for local musicians.” So, in 2014, we co-founded the Jackson Area Music Society (J.A.M.S.), a non-profit organization that fosters and promotes local musicians and musical activities. We coordinate with local businesses, the tourism office, and local musicians and make a list of all the musical events every week. The networking has created more opportunities and opened up an information highway for local people to find out what’s going on musically in West Tennessee.
So, how can you change generations? What can you do to make our city better? Jackson, simply put, is a community of investors. We are a diverse, talented, forward-thinking, creative, and diligent city full of people who truly care about each other. I am thankful to be from Jackson, and I am also thankful to live and raise my children in Jackson now.
Dr. Jeremy Tubbs is the Director of Music and Entertainment at The University of Memphis, Lambuth Campus. He holds a bachelor’s degree in guitar performance, a master’s degree in music history, and a Ph.D. in musicology. He has presented research papers at many prestigious universities, including Yale University, the University of Georgia, and the University of Memphis. He has also studied at Oxford University in England and Berklee College of Music in Boston. Currently, Dr. Tubbs is also the co-founder and president of the Jackson Area Music Society and the co-founder of Tennessee Music Awards. He has two children, London (13) and Liam (12), with his wife, Allison.