Savannah Music Festival Executive Director Gene Dobbs Bradford Receives Honorary Doctorate from University of Missouri - St. Louis

Staff Report

Wednesday, December 21st, 2022

The Savannah Music Festival (SMF) is pleased to announce that the University of Missouri - St. Louis presented SMF Executive Director Gene Dobbs Bradford with an honorary doctorate degree at the Fall 2022 commencement ceremony in St. Louis, Mo. on Saturday, Dec. 17. 

“Gene Dobbs Bradford oversaw tremendous growth during more than two decades at Jazz St. Louis and helped transform the organization from its performance focus to one that also promotes the uniquely American artform of jazz through initiatives that are helping educate and train the next generation of jazz musicians,” said University of Missouri Chancellor Kristin Sobolik.

For 23 years, Bradford served as the President and CEO of Jazz St. Louis, where he expanded the organization’s annual budget from $375,000 to $3.5 million and led the organization through a $8.5 million capital campaign to develop the Harold and Dorothy Steward Center for Jazz. He also oversaw the strategic expansion of Jazz St. Louis education and outreach programs reaching over 200,000 students. Earlier in his career, Bradford served as the Director of Operations for the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra and Production Manager for the Honolulu Symphony.

Originally from Columbia, Md., Bradford officially became the Executive Director of the Savannah Music Festival in February 2022. He currently oversees the nonprofit organization’s strategic plan, serves as chief development officer and leads administrative and operations functions as the Savannah Music Festival prepares for the 2023 festival, which will take place March 23 through April 8, 2023.

Bradford has received many honors for his contributions to the arts, including the Eastman School of Music Centennial Award from the University of Rochester, the Jazz Journalist Association’s Jazz Hero Award, the St. Louis Arts Award for Excellence in the Arts, St. Louis Business Journal’s “40 Under 40,” the St. Louis American Foundation’s Nonprofit Executive of the Year and the Webster Groves Arts Commission’s Lifetime Achievement in the Arts Award.

Bradford earned a B.A. in Music from the Eastman School of Music and an MBA from Washington University in St. Louis. He currently resides in Savannah, Ga.