The final month: Kevin Eubanks recalls voyage from GHS to ‘The Tonight Show’

 Kevin Eubanks shared jazz lessons at Philadelphia's Northeast High School in 2011. (Peter Crimmins/WHYY)

Kevin Eubanks shared jazz lessons at Philadelphia's Northeast High School in 2011. (Peter Crimmins/WHYY)

Kevin Eubanks is perhaps best known for the 15 years he spent alongside Jay Leno leading The Tonight Show Band. But, the accomplished guitarist is also a Philadelphia native who attended Germantown High School.

With less than two weeks to go before GHS closes for good, the 1976 alum took a moment from his busy schedule to answer a few questions about his alma mater.

Here’s what Eubanks had to say via an email Q&A interview:

NewsWorks: What did you think when you heard Germantown High School was closing?

Kevin Eubanks: “It’s sad that schools are closing. Knowing that my former high school is one of them makes it hit home deeper. [It’s] terrible for the community and the students in the short run and devastating in the long run.”

NW: What are your fondest memories of GHS?

KE: “My friends, playing music and having fun with them.”

NW: Do you remember the last time you were there? What was it like?

KE: “I went there with Jay Leno to shoot a piece about Philadelphia for The Tonight Show. It was a long time ago. It felt strange to see it knowing that I didn’t know anyone in there.”

NW: Are you concerned about art and music programs across the country being cut?

KE: “It’s a grave concern and I do not think people understand how devastating it is.

“It affects the community in so many ways negatively. The arts are a particular kind of education that combines working together, working alone, listening to one another, creating, giving and taking direction, compassion, depending on one another, focus, all coming to express new ideas.”

“Now tell me, why would our country, our state, our city, our community think it would be a good idea to eliminate a tool like the arts from schools? What do they have in mind for the future? More smartphones? I thought the idea was that our people should be smart not our phones.”

As the final day of Germantown High School’s 99-year history approaches — the Class of ’13 will don caps and gowns on June 19 — NewsWorks will present a series of stories including interviews with grads and former students.

To that end, we’re asking you to send your memories via email (subject line: My GHS Memories), the comments section or call (215) 351-1293.

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