Recording Academy's Music Educator Award Goes to Male Educator for Sixth Time in Seven Years

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Courtesy of The Recording Academy

The male-heavy roster of recipients is surprising in an era when such things are closely watched.

Mickey Smith Jr. of Maplewood Middle School in Sulphur, La. is the recipient of the 2020 music educator award, presented jointly by the Recording Academy and the Grammy Museum. Smith is the sixth male recipient of the award in the seven years it has been presented.  The only female recipient to date is Melissa Salguero, who received it two years ago.

Smith serves as the lead band director at his middle school. Under his direction, the band has grown more than 500% and now encompasses nearly 50% of the total school population. Through his nonprofit, MusicMakers2U, Smith provides instruments to children in the community.

Smith will attend the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards ceremony on Sunday (Jan. 26) at Staples Center in Los Angeles and a range of Grammy Museum events. He will formally receive his award in the spring at the taping of the annual Grammy Salute to Music Legends TV special for PBS.

The award was established in 2014 to recognize current U.S. music educators (kindergarten through college, public and private schools) who have made a significant contribution to the field of music education and who demonstrate a commitment to the broader cause of maintaining music education in schools.
Each year, one recipient is selected from 10 finalists. The winner receives a $10,000 honorarium with a matching school grant. The nine other finalists receive a $1,000 honorarium, with a matching school grant. The grants are made possible by the Ford Motor Company Fund.

Other past recipients are Kent Knappenberger (2014), Jared Cassedy (2015), Phillip Riggs (2016), Keith Hancock (2017) and Jeffery Redding (2019). The male-heavy roster of recipients is surprising in an era when such things are closely watched.

Applications for the 2021 music educator award are now open via

2020 Grammy Awards