Many of our Jazz Masters & Beyond class inductees attended East High—Philip Bailey, Larry Dunn, and Andrew Woolfolk of Earth, Wind & Fire; jazz cornetist Ron Miles; and jazz guitarist Bill Frisell. Prior inductees Judy Collins and Paul Whiteman, also roamed this historic school’s halls before moving on to bigger and better stages. Other notable musicians who are alumni include jazz pianist Purnell Steen of Le Jazz Machine, and Hattie McDaniel who got her start as a musician and songwriter before becoming the first African-American to win an Oscar for her role in Gone With The Wind.
According to East High’s historian, Dr. Marcia Goldstein, many of the high school’s teachers, especially in the music program, stay at the high school for decades and become masters at mentoring students. Mariane Padboy, a retired choir teacher at East High, was said to have instructed both Philip Bailey – teaching him to master falsetto to help him achieve notes higher than his normal vocal range – as well as opera singer Alan Titus who went on to become an internationally famed baritone. The current choir director, Wil Taylor, has been at the school for over thirty years.