U of I Jazz Fest Gets Presidential Thumbs Up

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University of Idaho President Tim White will be shaking hands with another guy who holds a similar title tomorrow morning.

But this other president is named George Bush.

At a ceremony in the White House tomorrow, White will receive congrats on behalf of his school winning the National Medal of Arts for the Lional Hampton International Jazz Festival.

"We're obviously very pleased about this," White said, on the phone from D.C. today.

This next year would have been Lionel Hampton's 100th birthday, which, White said, was fitting timing.

The University of Idaho is the first public university to receive the award since it was created by Congress in 1984. White said it was an honor to "join the exclusive company of arts leaders in America."

He and John Clayton, internationally renowned jazz artist and festival artistic director, will accept the medal in a White House ceremony. They will be joined by former Festival Director Lynn “Doc” Skinner and other festival supporters.

"This is a very special opportunity for us," White said. "It's a very exciting time for the University of Idaho."

Hampton's idea was to do more than just host an annual gathering of the world's top jazz musicians in Moscow. He first performed at the University of Idaho Jazz Festival in 1984, along with Sarah Vaughan. The festival began as a one-day event in 1967, and grew over the years. In 1985, the festival was renamed the Lionel Hampton/ Chevron Festival in his honor, and rededicated as the Lionel Hampton International Jazz Festival in 2006. Hampton died in 2002 at age 94.

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