Grace Story Podcast – Ep. #76: Dr. Phil Norris
Now the most decorated musician to hail from Grace College, Dr. Phil Norris (BME 76) never intended to study music. Despite the fact he picked up the cornet at the young age of six, Norris didn’t think he was good enough to pursue music as a career. But that changed in 1971, when Norris was attending Milton Hershey School, a boarding school for orphan boys, and Grace alum Joan (Meyer C 68) Keane introduced him to Jesus. Norris gave up a full-ride scholarship at a state school to study music education at Grace, where he got involved with Dimensions in Brass and was mentored by the late Jerry Franks. Franks helped launch Norris into his career of arranging, composing and publishing music (which continues to this day) and asked Norris to assist him at Grace and Lakeland Christian Academy after graduation in 1976. After three years of working alongside Franks, Norris began his stint of developing music education programs around the country – first at Corban College in Oregon and then at Sterling College in Kansas. In 1993, he landed at the University of Northwestern, St. Paul where he has taught music ever since. Over the course of his career, Norris completed graduate degrees in trumpet performance at Northwestern University and the University of Minnesota. Today, Norris’ music – from simple songs to full-scale symphonic-choral works – are performed by professionals across America and even around the world, and he’s performed in countries such as China, Singapore and Thailand. Norris now spends much of his time directing music at a church he helped start in the twin cities in Minnesota. Although he’s phasing out of teaching, he’s never without a musical endeavor on the horizon.