Dear NCCU Community:
North Carolina Central University is saddened by the loss of Mr. Ellis Marsalis Jr., an iconic musician, pianist and the patriarch of the Marsalis family, who passed away on April 1, 2020. He is the father of Branford Marsalis, artist-in-residence in NCCU’s Jazz Studies program.
Mr. Ellis Marsalis Jr. had a longtime affiliation with our institution. Dr. Ira Wiggins, director of Jazz Studies, noted that he was a great mentor and provided insight about teaching and ideas for building a successful jazz program. In addition to helping countless students and educators, he was a major influence for so many major jazz artists, including his sons Branford, Wynton, Delfayeo and Jason.
Mr. Marsalis gave his first performance with the NCCU Jazz Ensemble in 1995 at the 4th NCCU Jazz Festival and visited again in 2005 for the 15th annual festival, during which he provided workshops and masterclasses to our students. In 2016, he was the featured artist at the second annual “Keep the Vision Alive” benefit concert. Just last year, Dr. Brian Horton, an NCCU alumnus and current faculty member in the program, was selected to compose arrangements for a forthcoming project by Mr. Ellis Marsalis.
The NCCU family extends our deepest sympathy to Branford and his family during their time of bereavement.
In Truth and Service,
Johnson O. Akinleye, Ph.D., Chancellor