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Dr. James Polk

The James Polk Academy of Arts and Technology is deeply saddened to announce the passing of our namesake, Dr. James Polk. Dr. Polk was a legendary jazz pianist, a dedicated educator, and a champion for young artists.

For many years, Dr. Polk served as the music director for the iconic Ray Charles. His influence transcended the stage, however. Dr. Polk was passionate about nurturing young talent and fostering a love for music. This passion not only led him to co-found the Austin Jazz Society but also directly inspired our academy's founder, Edwin "Bubba" Hardin.

As a teenager, Bubba, as James Polk affectionately called him, lived next door to Dr. Polk and would often hear him playing with renowned musicians like James Brown, Ray Charles, and W.C. Clark, though at the time Ed didn't recognize the musical giants gracing their home. The sound of Dr. Polk's music spilling through the walls sparked a fire in Edwin, inspiring him to form his own local band, The Techniques. This early exposure to Dr. Polk's artistry laid the groundwork for a lifelong friendship.

Their bond only grew stronger over the years, culminating in the decision to establish the James Polk Academy of Arts and Technology. The academy was Edwin's way of honoring Dr. Polk's lifelong commitment to artistic development and bridging cultural divides through the power of music. Our programs in music, technology, and the performing arts all reflect Dr. Polk's dedication to fostering well-rounded young artists equipped to thrive in the creative industries.

While we mourn the loss of this extraordinary man, his legacy lives on in the hearts and minds of the students who walk through our doors. We will continue to strive for excellence, guided by Dr. Polk's unwavering belief in the transformative power of music and artistic expression.

The Dr. James Polk Academy of Arts & Technology Family

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