“Richie” Williams has been the Director of Bands at Paragould High School since 2008 and is the 13thdirector of the programs successful 83 year history. Mr. Williams previously taught band in the Westside School District of Jonesboro, AR. At Paragould, Mr. Williams conducts the Symphonic Band, the Paragould “PRIDE” Marching Band, the Sr. High Jazz Band, team teaches beginning brass & woodwind classes, team teaches Jr. High Intermediate Bands, and is the Instrumental Music Coordinator for the Paragould School District.
Mr. Williams is a Native American of the Cherokee and Apache tribes. His given Indian name is Guianta Mescatero, which when translated means “Red Magic”. Born in Parsons, TN; Mr. Williams has resided in both Memphis & West Memphis, and has now lived in Paragould for the past 27 years, where he is a graduate of Paragould High School (formally known as Ridgecrest) . His previous public school directors and mentors include George Pokorski (Marion Schools), Trey Reely (previously of the Paragould Schools), and he interned with Steve Warner (Jonesboro Schools). Mr. Williams’ high school accomplishments include Student Council President, President of the Arkansas Schools Student Council Board, All-State Trumpet, Lead Trumpet in the Inaugural All-State Jazz Band, and regular member of the First Band on the Regional level from 8th-12th grade on both French Horn & trumpet.
Mr. Williams attended Arkansas State University in Jonesboro, AR, where he studied trumpet with the legendary Richard Jorgensen, who has been Principal Chair Trumpet of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra since 1976. He received both his Bachelors in Instrumental & Choral Music Education, as well as his Masters in Instrumental Wind Conducting. He has studied conducting with Dr. Tom O’Neal, Dr. Timothy Oliver, Dr. Neale Bartee, Dr. Jack Stamp, Dr. Ricky Brooks, and Dr. Gary Hill.
Mr. Williams’ twelve year stint as Director of Bands at Paragould High School have seen the program receive a remarkable list of accomplishments and growth. Prior to teaching, he spent the previous ten years in management & sales, with the last six as a Regional Sales Director for a soft drink corporation. He is the 2012 Phi Beta Mu Outstanding Young Band Director of the Year for the State of Arkansas. He is also the 2015 School Band and Orchstra "50 Directors in America Who make A Difference". In addition, he is a 2016 & 2018 Recording Academy & GRAMMY Museum National Music Educator of the Year national quarterfinalist (top 188 music teachers in America). He is the 2016 Kiwanis Club of Paragould Business Person of the Year and the 2017 Paragould Christmas Parade Grand Marshall. Under his leadership, the band program has received a Blue Ribbon Award from the National Band Association as one of only 8 programs to receive this in 2017. NAMM has named the Paragould School District one of the Best Communities in America for four straight years for music education. His Symphonic Band was the featured Honor Ensemble at the 2017 Arkansas All-State Music Conference for Class AAAA. The Paragould Pride Marching Band is the 4-Time Consecutive Arkansas Marching Band State Champions for 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and they received 7th place in the nation at the US Bands National Championship in 2017. His bands are 11-time consecutive recipients of the ASBOA Sweepstakes Award (Arkansas’ highest honor awarded to band programs), consistent recipients of Superior Ratings in Concert & Marching performances, National Champions of the Heritage Music Concert Festival, St. Louis, MO in 2010, 38-time Grand Champions and Reserve Grand Champions at various Arkansas, Tennessee, & Mississippi Invitational Marching Events. Mr. Williams’ marching bands have received hundreds of awards & honors for various captions, class, & overall accomplishments. The program has also been one of the leaders in placing students in All-Region concert & jazz bands, as well as on the state level. Under Mr. Williams' leadership, the program has seen tremendous growth growing from 140+ students (7th-12th grade) in 2008 to it's current state of over 400+ students (7th-12th grade). Over 75% of the entire 7th grade class participates in beginning band each year, with over 35% of the entire 7th-12th grade campus participating in the band program!
Mr. Williams is an active marching & concert band adjudicator and his professional memberships include ASBOA, ABA, Phi Beta Mu, and National Band Association. He is a Board Member for Dixie Band Camp, the South's oldest band camp & the second oldest in the United States. He is also the Arkansas School Band & Orchestra Association (ASBOA) Region V Chairman and a member of the ASBOA Executive Board. He is a member of Kappa Kappa Psi. He was the Director of Music for the West View Baptist Church (SBC) in Paragould, AR from 2006-2018. From 2007-2017, Mr. Williams was the Public Address Announcer & “Voice of Lady Red Wolves Basketball” at Arkansas State University.
He has a gorgeous twelve year old daughter, named Dixie Danielle and a remarkably handsome seven year old son, named Dexter Alexander. In his “free time”, Mr. Williams enjoys yard work, is the Master of Ceremonies and singer/performer in a local music variety show entitled “The Ultimate Oldies Show” at the Historic Collin’s Theater, frequently serves as a Public Address Announcer, Master of Ceremonies, and a Public Speaker throughout the state of Arkansas, and enjoys the role of "The Best Daddy Ever", as awarded by his children. He attends All Saints' Episcopal Church in Paragould.
Nick Averwater talks with Richie Williams, Director of Bands at Paragould High School in Paragould, Arkansas. In his 13 years there, the music program has gained a reputation as one of the best in the state. Our chat with Richie is presented in two episodes. This is Part 1.
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