Crawford High Music Legacy Project

From the late 1960’s through mid-70’s, San Diego’s Will C. Crawford High School produced an extraordinary number of talented young musicians who would go on to enjoy professional careers as performers, composers, producers and music educators.  Many continue to thrive on stages, in studios and at educational institutions throughout the country, while others who left a significant mark in music have sadly passed on too soon.

For all who were part of this unique performing arts hotbed, their unifying force was Music Director Dennis Foster (’67-’75).  Under Mr. Foster’s leadership, many of Crawford’s ensembles were among the most respected and awarded in Southern California, particularly in the field of jazz.

In 1989, KPBS-TV produced a performance documentary reuniting some of Crawford’s most illustrious music alums from the early 70’s (Hollis Gentry, Nathan East, Carl Evans, Jr., Doug Robinson and Marchelle Minafee), who each recounted their development as artists at CHS.  Here are some highlights from that program (courtesy of KPBS): 

Now in retirement near Tucson, Dennis Foster wishes to leave a legacy of Crawford’s music excellence and achievement to future generations of CHS and San Diego Unified students and teachers with his library of studio and concert recordings of the Colt jazz/stage bands, concert bands and orchestras he led.  These often professionally captured performance tapes include the only known recording of works specially commissioned for the Crawford ensembles of this era.

The delicate process of digitally transferring audiotape of this vintage requires the expertise and equipment of a specialist.  It involves the “baking” of reels in a convection oven to loosen the tightly packed magnetic tape and ensure that the recorded material adheres to its tape backing upon playback after decades in storage.  For this project we have arranged the services of L.A.’s leading tape archivist to the music industry, longtime Capitol Studios engineer Bill Smith of United Archiving.

Funds raised for the Crawford High Music Legacy Project cover the projected costs of transferring Mr. Foster’s tapes, the establishment of a digital music archive for Crawford High School plus all associated shipping and handling expenses.  Current plans include making the archive accessible to interested alumni, project contributors and community members.

Whether you played in a Crawford music ensemble, support the idea of arts education in our schools or merely recognize the value of preserving these exceptional performances for future aspiring CHS musicians, your tax-deductible contribution will help create an enduring digital archive of these one-of-a-kind recordings.  Please join in this exciting rediscovery and appreciation of a special era at Crawford High.  To learn more or make a matching gift, visit and click on “DONATE."


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  • david carlson 
    • $25 
    • 1 d
  • Marlynne Pike 
    • $30 
    • 1 d
  • Linda Urmacher 
    • $100 
    • 1 d
  • Geoffrey Smith 
    • $25 
    • 5 d
  • Rachel Gilbert 
    • $150 
    • 8 d
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Fundraising team (3)

Susan Marshall 
Raised $624 from 8 donations
San Diego, CA
Will C. Crawford High School, Foundation, INC 
Registered nonprofit
Donations are typically 100% tax deductible in the US.
Learn more
Greg Estep 
Team member
Raised $489 from 8 donations
David Drexler 
Team member
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