DENTON (UNT), Texas - An internationally recognized musician and jazz studies professor at the University of North Texas has been inducted into the Percussive Arts Society Hall of Fame.
Ed Soph received the honor in November at the Percussive Arts Society international conference in Indianapolis.
The Hall of Fame recognizes the industry’s top leaders in percussion performance, education and composition. To be selected, nominees must have made a notable difference or created fundamental improvements in the world of percussion or improved the profession through significant services or acts.
“It is a very humbling experience,” Soph said. “When you are in the company of these great, great players and teachers, it is a real honor.”
Soph began playing music at an early age. He recalled his father, who played the piano, giving him a wooden block and set of sticks. Together, the two would play music in the evenings, and at age 13, Soph began taking drum lessons.
“I was exposed to music from a very early age,” he said. “And, like most things, if no one comes along to quell your curiosity, you follow your passion.”
Soph attended UNT as an undergraduate, performing in the esteemed One O’Clock Lab Band. Upon graduation in 1968, he began touring and moved to New York. He returned to UNT in 1987 to work as a professor, which he found gratifying and challenging.
“It is a huge privilege and responsibility to mentor these students for four years,” he said. “Every student is different, and trying to find the right key to unlock whatever potential talent is hidden inside is both challenging and rewarding.”
For his own career, Soph credits several mentors, including Leon Breeden, the longtime director of UNT’s jazz studies program; Robert Schietroma, who for years led UNT’s percussion program; and Jim Coffin, who worked in the percussion industry and helped Soph launch his career as a clinician. He also thanked his wife, Carol, who he said has supported him throughout his career.
UNT colleagues said they were not surprised by Soph’s recognition.
“It’s entirely fitting that Ed has been inducted into the Percussive Arts Society Hall of Fame,” said John Murphy, chair of the Division of Jazz Studies in the UNT College of Music. “He has earned a worldwide reputation as a jazz drummer in small groups led by Clark Terry and Marvin Stamm, and in big bands such as Stan Kenton and Woody Herman, and as an educator whose students include Keith Carlock and Ari Hoenig. We are very grateful to have had him as a member of our faculty in the College of Music for the past 30 years. Ed has been and will remain an inspiration to all of us on the faculty for his sharp wit and the passion he brings to his playing, his teaching and his advocacy for environmental causes.”