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Greetings Music Students,

I would like to cordially invite you to the Inaugural Jackson State University. This is an intensive three-day festival for students in grades 9-12; designed to provide educational focus and opportunities for your musical growth.

The Honors Music Festival will feature a Honor String Orchestra and Honor Band with two special concerts provided and sponsored by the Jackson State University Department of Music. This festival provides an opportunity for advanced band and string students to further the development of their performance skills through rehearsals, sectionals, performances, and master classes. 

Online applications are now available. Student applications, including audition recordings, are due no later than Friday, January 12th. Those selected for participation will be notified of their acceptance by Friday, January 19th. The fee for each selected student is $45, which includes t-shirt, medal and reception). Checks can be made payable to JSU Department of Music and mailed to 1400 J.R. Lynch Street P.O. Box 17055 Jackson, MS 39217. The Honors Music Festival will include a concert by a special invited High School Symphony Orchestra on February 8th and the annual PRISM Concert presented by our Department of Music on February 9th. The festival will conclude with a concert by the Honor Band and Honor String Orchestra on Saturday, February 10th in Rose McCoy Auditorium.

Based on audition recordings, some students will be selected for a complimentary private lesson during the festival with faculty members.

If you have any questions or need additional information, please contact Dr. Ramon Jackson at or Dr. LaTannia Ellerbe at We look forward to welcoming you to Jackson State University for our inaugural event. 


Musically yours,

Ramon Jackson, DMA, DME
Honors Music Festival Chair

Honor String Orchestra Director

Calida Jones

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Ms. Calida Jones, is an accomplished musician, social justice advocate, and educator with more than 20 years of experience in performance planning, workshop and curriculum development, volunteerism, project management, and teaching in private and public institutions. Working with arts and cultural organizations across the nation, she has led efforts in advancing equity, diversity, inclusion, and access. Passionate about intentional purposeful teaching and community engagement, her personal mission is to ensure that children with limited resources have access to musical opportunities and activities. She is also committed to correlating the art of teaching to life skills and community building.

As Founder and Managing Partner at CNJ Associates, Ms. Jones provided strategic guidance to organizations across the country, supporting and assisting arts organizations in the creation of equity, diversity, inclusion, and access goals. Ms. Jones also previously served as the Director of Engagement of The Hartt School at the University of Hartford. Her key responsibilities included organizing and implementing a faculty development training program, collaborating with the University’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion office, and curating external community partnerships with local and national youth arts agencies. She also led the development of a vision and effective strategic plan that championed the importance of equity, diversity, inclusion, and access in the learning environment.

As Program Director for Music Matters and Conductor of the Hartford All-City Youth Orchestra in conjunction with the Charter Oak Culture Center, Ms. Jones oversaw student recruitment and retention, curriculum design, community engagement, performance management, and evaluation. Ms. Jones also served as Director of Development and Advocacy for the El Sistema-inspired program PROJECT MUSIC and as Artistic Director of the Waterbury Symphony Orchestra’s El Sistema-inspired program Bravo Waterbury!.

Ms. Jones currently serves as the President of the Connecticut Arts Alliance and as Board Clerk for El Sistema USA, where she also chairs the Racial Diversity and Cultural Understanding Committee. A TEDx speaker in San Jose, Ms. Jones has had the privilege of speaking at r prestigious institutions such as Yale School of Music, Duke University, The Connecticut State Capitol, and The Hartt School. She has received numerous honors during her career, including a scholar fellowship at the Aspen Ideas Festival, Elizabeth L. Mahaffey Fellowship, Grammy Music Educator Award nomination, 2018 Connecticut Arts Hero Award, and the Father Thomas H. Dwyer Humanitarian Award for her work in Waterbury, Connecticut. Ms. Jones holds a bachelor of fine arts degree in violin performance from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a master of music degree in violin performance and Suzuki pedagogy from The Hartt School.

Honor Band Director

Kelvin Jones, PhD

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Dr. Kelvin Jones is an active educator, conductor, musician, drill designer, and music arranger for high school and university music programs across the country, with his arrangements being performed throughout the United States, including the Dallas Winds. Formerly in his position at Louisiana State University, he served as the director of the award winning and Grammy-nominated Golden Band from Tigerland.

Bands under Jones’ direction have performed at events on the state and national level, including the Zulu Mardi Gras parade, New Orleans Saints, in Washington DC, Walt Disney World, the Southeastern Conference (SEC) Championship in Atlanta, GA, College Football Playoff (CFP) Peach Bowl and the CFP National Championship games. Under his direction, numerous performances of the LSU Tiger Marching Band have been selected for recognition and viewing at regional and national conferences of the College Band Directors National Association, including the Athletic Band Symposium and nominated for a 2023 Grammy award by the Recording Academy for their collaborative album with Zydeco artist, Sean Ardoin in the Best Regional Roots category.

A former K-12 public school educator, he was the band director at West Feliciana High School in St. Francisville, Louisiana. At WFHS, he led an active, comprehensive music program that produced numerous award-winning performances at state and national events, including the 2013 United States National Presidential Inauguration Music Festival in Washington DC. He holds degrees in Music from Jackson State University and Louisiana State University. In his spare time, he enjoys spending time with his wife Felicia, a nurse practitioner, and sons Samuel and Kye-Parker.

Department of Music


Jackson State University
Department of Music
F.D. Hall Music Center
JSU Box 17055
Jackson, MS 39217-0155


Phone: 601.979.2141
Fax: 601.979.0858