Whitehaven mourns loss of beloved high school band director

Published: May. 1, 2023 at 5:16 PM CDT|Updated: May. 1, 2023 at 5:27 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Monday, the Whitehaven community mourns the loss of one beloved community leader.

Whitehaven High School’s band director, Andre Newsom, died over the weekend during a trip with the band to Atlanta.

For over 15 years, Andre Newsom changed the lives of students in his band room at Whitehaven High School.

Newsom was an accomplished musician, Whitehaven alumni, a graduate of Tennessee State University, and a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity.

“He was a giant, amongst men to say the least, like he impacted so many lives, including my own,” said De’Merteiro Lee, a former student, of the beloved educator.

Lee is a middle school band director and a 2015 graduate of Whitehaven High.

He recalls joining the class as a student but leaving as a family member.

Eight years later, he says Mr. Newsom is one of the reasons he became a band director, telling his students that he sees a lot of his former band director in himself.

“He always told everyone in the band, ‘You can be whatever you want to be in life, just don’t be a teacher, just do not be a teacher,’ and I was one of the ones that literally did the exact opposite,” Lee says. “I know if it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”

Memphis-Shelby County Schools (MSCS) Interim Superintendent Toni Williams released a statement saying, “He was overjoyed to teach at his alma mater and share his knowledge and network with students. His music, like his life, was bold and vibrant, and his memory will remain the same in our hearts.”

Lee remembers Newsom as the life of the party wherever he went, saying, “He was such a big delight to everybody, even if you were having a bad day, he found a way to make you smile. Even if he was going through something bad himself, but you just never knew.”

The Whitehaven community will be holding a balloon release in his honor at the Whitehaven High School Tuesday night at 6:30 p.m.

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