2004 Induction Speech

It’s been a long road back here today. I left here when I was a very young man with a 5 song demo.

I’m deeply humbled to be in the company of these extraordinary artists. And, I’m very grateful and honored to have been selected and included in this event.

I was blessed to grow up in the 60s and 70s in a school system that funded and supported all kinds of artistic endeavors. There was band, choir, dance, orchestra, drama, assemblies that featured school talent. Monterey even had it’s own radio station staffed with Monterey students! It was everywhere! Just by attending school, you could try anything.

These days, public education is a full fledged charity. If you want a decent and competitive education, you have to solicit funds. This includes all subjects, not just the arts. However, the arts are often the first to be cut.

Arts are 6% of our Gross National Product. We will need a huge influx of new talent to stay there.

Caroline Kennedy’s new appointment as chief fundraiser for New York city schools spotlights the bleak condition in which many public education systems find themselves. Cash strapped schools now court donations and grants once considered the domain of private institutions.

But here’s the hope.

New studies show that the arts impact development. Preschoolers who receive piano lessons and participate in singalongs, for example, develop better abstract-reasoning and math skills than do other preschoolers who receive computer lessons.

The 2002 Profile of College Bound Seniors reveals that high school students who took classes in the arts earned higher verbal and math Scholastic Assessment Test scores, with music and drama classes engendering the biggest improvements. Likewise, a whopping 90% of The Boys Choir of Harlem ….with whom I personally had the indescribable experience of working with…..their members go on to attend college, and in 1997, most of USA Today’s All-USA Academic Team members were musicians.

All of this just shows that art and music MATTER…..Especially in the beginnings of young lives.

John F. Kennedy said, “For art establishes the basic human truths which must serve as the touchstones of our judgments.”

I would just like to close by saying that what I have accomplished, I did so because I was a product of this great community and it’s values. Let’s all work to make sure that many many more young people have the same shot and the same opportunities that I did.

Thank you.

Clif Magness, Lubbock, Texas, 2004

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