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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 Tuesday, January 30th. Those selected for participation will be notified of their acceptance by Friday, February 2nd. 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 N. Jones is an accomplished musician, social justice advocate, and educator with more than 25 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. She has built and supported several social change music programs both in Connecticut and around the country. 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 deeply committed to correlating the art of teaching to life skills and community building through the lenses of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Accessibility. Calida previously worked as a Vice President of Planning and Capacity Building at Arts Consulting Group, a national arts consulting firm. She continues to be a regularly-sought after International Speaker, Coach, Violinist, and Music Educator. Calida activates her philosophy of community building, inspiration, actionable solutions, and hope through motivational speeches, workshops, and coaching individuals all over the globe. Most notably, she recently had the opportunity to speak to over 500k individuals in Amravati, India. There, she shared the “Impact of Kindness”. A TEDx speaker in San Jose, CA, Calida has had the privilege of speaking at prestigious institutions such as the 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, the Connecticut Arts Hero Award for the Waterbury region, and the Father Thomas H. Dwyer Humanitarian Award for her work in Waterbury, Connecticut. In addition to being the Founder of CNJ Associates, she also recently co-founded an arts ecosystem called Creative Evolutions, a Human-Centered Adaptive Ecosystem that Creatives Actionable Solutions for Creative Individuals and Organizations. Calida has previously sat on many boards to include the El Sistema USA board, Sound Crossings Music Board, and as a councilwoman for the Connecticut State Arts Council. Currently, Calida serves as the Board President of the Connecticut Arts Alliance, a state-wide advocacy membership organization. Calida 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