I’ve been impressed over and over at the quality of company Jack Robinson kept. Based on this alone, it’s no surprise that his legacy continues to impact many who never knew him. Jack had vision, purpose, and high expectations for those in his charge, and IPR was but one outgrowth of Jack’s desire to see others succeed.
You see, Jack wanted to help people, and he wanted to use music education to do it. He had a philanthropic bent and a concern about giving back to the community. As a universal language, Jack understood that music speaks to people. And, as a self-made entrepreneur, he also understood how a love for music can drive people to succeed.
Pre-IPR, Jack owned and operated The Electronic Musicians Workshop, as well as his own recording studio for more than ten years. At EMW he taught music production, audio engineering, music business, music theory, songwriting and digital video production. Jack Robinson’s goals were centered around getting music back on the minds of youth; an inspiration to anyone wanting to get into the industry as a self-created entrepreneur and artist.
Jackie saw IPR as an extension of the work he’d already began. When he and 3 other businessmen (Terry Myher, Lance Sabin, and Tom Tucker) began talks to birth a technology college that would fill an educational void in the in the media arts, it was a no brainer for Jack to be on board.
Beyond IPR, his friend and business partner Lance Sabin, along with the hard work of others in the IPR fold, have continued the pursuit of Jack’s dream. A foundation has been established in Jack’s name for the purpose of bringing to fruition that which Jack ran out of time to accomplish: The JLR Foundation (Jackie Lee Robinson).
Born out of the JLR Foundation for the purpose of fulfilling Jack’s original vision, a music production and technology program has been implemented in the Minneapolis parks and branched into the public library system: Ideawerks (www.ideawerks.org).
Ideawerks teaches kids ages 12-17 how to use music technology to record, mix and edit. Jack wanted a way to provide accessible music and technology training to those who couldn’t otherwise afford it; Ideawerks fills this role free of charge to program participants.
Through Ideawerks others (IPR, MSB, etc.) have provided a vehicle to exercise the work Jack started many years ago, but Jack’s spirit is still very much alive at IPR.
Jackie Lee Robinson Day, November 11th, 2011
Since JLR Day lands squarely on Veteran’s Day, IPR’s goal was to respectfully identify and thank the many veterans amongst IPR staff and students, while reminding everyone of Jack’s impact on both the birth and sustenance of what has become known as one of the premier media arts colleges in the United States.
To this end, Walt Chancellor Junior, former Marine, IPR Instructor, and man of many musical hats hosted the November 11th installment of IPR’s DIY 360 featuring the band Smart Mouth. To Walter and the members of Smart Mouth, Jack was more than just a name, he was a dear friend. So it was fitting that these men lead the morning’s charge. Jack would’ve been proud; DIY sizzled, and IPR students and staff made it clear they’d like Smart Mouth to return for an encore performance. Even so, the day’s celebration wasn’t relegated to one event.
This year, IPR President Lance Sabin wanted to plan a dedicated evening to celebrate Jack’s life and contributions to IPR and its surrounding community. Short of the memorial display outside the Student Services office, the current lot of IPR students has limited knowledge of who Jack Robinson is. So it made sense for IPR to recognize Jackie Lee Robinson Day with a Friday evening reception which included a personal invite list, hors d’oevres, and live entertainment. Students were invited along with a whole host of friends, family, and even a few folks whose only knowledge of Jack is his connection to Ideawerks. Those who knew Jack were invited to share personal stories and remembrances as well.
Erica West, Student Services Director, was able to secure an impressive band of Jack’s friends for the evening celebration: Kevin Anderson (guitar) Michael Bland (percussion), Walter Chancellor (Saxophone), Billy Franze (Bass Guitar), and Todd Burrell (Keyboards). Erica guested on a few songs herself; she’s a crazy good vocalist. The band made a night of complex jazz phrasing look like “kid’s stuff”. It was fun and refreshing to experience musicians of this caliber come together in honor of Jack.
Stephen Slater, S4 Designs, has played a continual role in the development of the JLR Foundation; he and Walter Chancellor have been a key component to the vision and maintenance of the Ideawerks programs in the Minneapolis public park systems. As a VIP guest, Stephan Slater took the stage to offer a few words about his late friend, the foundation, and why it was each table had been outfitted with Butterfinger candy; it was Jack’s favorite. Others found sharing too emotional and elected to maintain anonymity, but many were gathered to remember their late friend and appreciated Slater’s contribution.
November 11th, 2011 was planned as a memorial, but was fulfilled in a celebration. It’s clear that Jack’s friendships were meaningful and his life’s work was rooted in something much bigger than himself; Seven years since his passing, his legacy remains and reminds us how the life of one man can truly make a difference.