Edwin “Bubba” Hardin was born into a musical family in Austin, Texas. His mother was
a pianist and choir director and his grandfather sang in the church choir and performed in church
plays. Edwin’s brother Michael, was a talented singer and pastor in addition to playing multiple
instruments. Tracee Williams, Ed’s sister established a professional singing group and currently
sings in various events around the country. Ed also had a cousin who was a song writer and co-
founder of the infamous Mighty Clouds of Joy. Another cousin was a member of the Rayettes
who sang with the late, legendary Ray Charles.
Hardin’s interest in music came at an early age. With noted jazz pianist, Dr. James Polk
as his neighbor, Ed spent numerous hours listening to Dr. Polk rehearse, asking questions and
even practicing his vocal techniques with Dr. Polk’s piano instrumentation. Always curious
about the people and sounds coming from his neighbor’s home, Hardin often wondered why a
blind man was being escorted into Dr. Polk’s residence. He later learned that the “blind man”
was none other than Ray Charles!
Bubba’s professional musical career began in his late teens. He composed musical lyrics
and formulated a “Temptation’s-like” singing group known as the Techniques. This group of five
young men performed throughout Central Texas with W.C. Clark, and became the first group to
win the overall Battle of the Bands competition hosted by the City of Austin in the early 1970’s.
The Techniques later toured the United States and Europe performing cover tunes as well as their
own original music.
Hardin stopped performing and began teaching his enormously versed expertise to
underprivileged youth and has been quietly inspiring young people to follow their dreams of
singing, dancing and the performing arts for more than 25 years. As an educator, he founded the
tutoring and education-assistance non-profit organization, Opportunity Enrichment Services.
This organization provided resources for 13 priority schools in East Austin and afforded over
2000 youths with desperately needed educational skill sets. During this time he also founded the
Shining Starz singing consortium that has touched over 200 youth’s lives. These two successful
innovations generated great interests among students because classes and talent development
were offered at no cost to the participant!
Hardin continued teaching and creating performance opportunities until diagnosed with
cancer in 2009. Throughout his cancer treatment Hardin said he thought about the young lives he
had touched and how he could make an even more significant difference. It was at that time that
he reminisced about his mentor, Dr. James Polk, and the idea to pioneer an academy of arts and
technology in Dr. Polk’s honor was formulated. Ed “Bubba” Hardin has been quietly connecting
the dots with historians, artists, educators, and musicians to bring his innovation to fruition.
Blessedly, classes will be staring this month at the Dr. James Polk Academy of Arts &
Technology (JPAAT), located in East Austin. The classes are free to students and will involve
seasoned musicians and educators mentoring and educating young people, while the youth will
share their gifts and knowledge of technology.
Ed is an extremely humble individual who refuses to boast about his accomplishments
and is very demure when accolades are imparted. He will share however, his pride in some of
his Protégées he cultivated who have appeared in movies and recorded songs with top producers,
such as Mariah Roberson who was featured in the movie, “Mama, I Want To Sing” playing the
Ciara character at a young age and _________ who appeared on the television program, The
Voice. His students always come back to share their joy with him and render abundant
appreciation. Ed currently works full time as an educator, and continues to work with the
Shinning Starz while serving as the CEO and further enhancing the JPAAT.
It is without doubt that this compassionate, devoted and benevolent individual deserves to
receive the Unsung Hero Award. This award would bestow the type of recognition Ed would
never solicit but so very much deserves. Considering all of the time, effort, and resources he has
dedicated to imparting a positive impact on today’s youth, I am without doubt that Edwin
“Bubba” Hardin has most certainly earned it.