George Graves Jr, a native Peorian, received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music education
from Illinois State University, where his principal saxophone teacher was Professor James Boitos.
Graves taught instrumental music in Peoria School District #150 for 33 years. For 31 of those years, he
was Director of Bands at Manual High School. Under Mr. Graves’ direction, the Manual High School
Band marched in two Mardi Gras parades in New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1990 and 1993 and in parades
at Walt Disney World Orlando, Florida, in 2003 and 2007. Mr. Graves retired in 2008 but continues to
be active both in performing and by judging music contests.
As a member of the Peoria Municipal Band for 44 years, Mr. Graves has performed with the band in
the summer months and currently serves as the band’s business manager. He is a charter member of the
Prairie Wind Ensemble and performs with the Central Illinois Jazz Orchestra. In 1991 the Prairie Wind
Ensemble toured Germany and Italy. In 2003 the Central Illinois Jazz Orchestra performed in Paris,
France and also performed at the famous Montreux Jazz Festival in Montreux, Switzerland. On
occasion he has performed with the Peoria Symphony, Corn Stock Theatre, and the Peoria Players.
Mr. Graves is a member of the Illinois Music Educators’ Association, the National Association for
Music Education, Phi Delta Kappa, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., and the
Peoria Federation of Musicians, A.F. of M.
In 1987 Mr. Graves was accepted as a member of the Outstanding Young Men of America. In 1990 he
was proclaimed by the Cosmopolitan Club of Peoria to be “An Outstanding Teacher of the Year” and in
1992 was recognized by the Music Educators’ National Conference (MENC) as being both a
Nationally Registered and Nationally Certified Music Educator. In 2008 Mr. Graves was recognized
for his work in the Peoria community in music education by being inducted into the Peoria African
American Hall of Fame and was listed in the book Role Models: Profiles of Successful African
Americans in Peoria, Illinois.
George and his wife Martha have been married for 43 years and are the parents of a daughter, Erica,
and a son, Darren.