JT Braxton

Well-known jazz musician J.T. Braxton was once on the path, to becoming a plumber. But instead, he chose to follow his passion for music.

"Not too many people are going to tell you that," Joe Phea said. "He would always say, 'I don't know how I got from pluming to music, but just something that happened along the way.'"

A path that would change many lives in Lubbock.

"In the summer he would open up a window and you could hear him practicing, you'd go outside and he'd be hard at it," Phea reminisced as Braxton's neighbor. 

He remembers his mentor fondly.

"A person that you would want to get to know," Phea said. "Once you were in his presence and you got to talk to him and he started talking to you, you kind of felt easy. He would let you know stuff but he was also a good listener."

Braxton's legacy in Lubbock began at Dunbar school as an assistant band director.

For 35 years, he taught generations of Lubbock I.S.D. students.

"Freshman year we had just gone into UIL, our first year we didn't do too well in sight reading," Phea explained. "Over the next 4 years we kept working at it... and our senior year, we got it."

"It made a lot of difference as far as perseverance. I mean we had a lot of times we could have gave up, and he could have too, but he didn't."

Phea played alongside his former teacher in the Roy Roberts jazz band after graduation.

"He was still 'Mr. Braxton'" Phea said. "I always just respected his opinion, I respected it when I was a kid, and still respected him when I was an adult," he added.

Braxton was inducted into the West Texas walk of fame in 2017 alongside his son, Thomas. 

But his legacy lives on beyond the accolades and the music.

"If you kind of ask any of the people that have worked with him, that have talked to him, went to church with him, you know, there's a little bit of him in all of us. You know, he left a piece."

Braxton was 101 years old.