Charles Booker (b. 1952), a native of Natchez, Mississippi, is a former U.S. Army Bandmaster, and Associate Professor at the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith. He served the university as Director of Jazz Studies, Director of Bands, and Chair of the Music Department. During his tenure at UA Fort Smith he taught trumpet, band, jazz band, conducting, music theory, orchestration and composition. Mr. Booker was a student of Al Sturchio and Dan Schreiber and studied trumpet with Gary Rosenblatt and Jan Roller. He studied composition with Hank Levy (composer/arranger for Stan Kenton), Dr. Steve Strunk and Dr. James Balentine, and conducting with Dr. Robert Garofalo and Dr. Robert Rustowicz. Mr. Booker received his degrees from the University of the State of New York and the University of Texas at San Antonio. He later completed courses for Texas teacher certification in secondary music at Texas State University and holds a Texas Teaching Certificate.
Mr. Booker has over 100 compositions published by Alfred, Kendor, Southern Music Company, Wingert-Jones, Potenza Music, Print Music Source, and Lecta Music. Mr. Booker’s music has been performed internationally by schools, universities, community bands and professional bands and orchestras that include the Fort Smith Symphony Orchestra, The U.S. Army Band and Orchestra ("Pershing’s Own"), the U.S. Army Field Band, the U.S. Military Academy Band (West Point), the U.S. Air Force Band of Mid-America and the U.S. Air Force Academy Band. Mr. Booker’s 21 year career in the U.S. Army included service in the Fifth Army Band in San Antonio, Texas, staff arranger for the Army Field Band, conductor of Army Bands in Louisiana, Germany, New York City, and director of the Jazz Ambassadors in Washington, D.C. As a trumpeter with the Fifth Army Band, Mr. Booker performed for the funerals of Presidents Truman and Johnson. In 1981, as the conductor of the 3rd Armored Division Band in Germany, Mr. Booker conducted ceremonies at Rhein Main Air Force Base for the returning American hostages from Iran. In New York City, he conducted the Army Band of New York City at ceremonies for head of states of the United States, Germany, France, Netherlands, Portugal and China, and his band performed at the centennial activities of the Statue of Liberty. While an associate conductor of the Army Field Band and director of the Jazz Ambassadors, Mr. Booker performed at the Kennedy Center, in 48 states, India, Japan, Canada, Mexico, Europe, and marched in the inauguration parades of Presidents George H. W. Bush and William J. Clinton.
He was Interim Director of Bands at Trinity University from 1996 to 1997 and assistant editor at Southern Music Company from 1994 to 1997. Charles Booker has been recognized by the Mayor of Fort Smith (the 2006 "Mayor’s Honors to the Visual and performing Arts"), the North Side Independent School District of San Antonio, Texas (the 2008 "Pillars of Character Award") and received the Arkansas Arts Council Award in music composition for 2009. He is past president of the Arkansas Chapter of the College Band Directors National Association, past president of the Arkansas Chapter of the International Association of Jazz Educators, current member of the Texas Bandmaster Association, the Association of Concert Bands and is a past president (2010) of the Arkansas Bandmaster Association. Mr. Booker is also a retired member of the Texas Chapter of Phi Beta Mu.
In 2007, the New Mexico State University Symphonic Winds released their CD entitled "Centra-fuge: The Music of Charles L. Booker, Jr.”, and in 2008, Mr. Booker released his second CD "American Jubilee”. Booker’s CD "Time Remembered” was released in 2009, and his CD "Radiant Blues” was released in 2011. In 2013 Mr. Booker and fellow composer Roger Cichy released a compilation of their latest original music on their CD “Glorious Journey”.
Mr. Booker is married to his wife of 49 years, trumpeter and quilter, Claudette [DeRocher] Booker of San Antonio, Texas. They have three children: Major Erik Booker, U. S. Army (Retired) and Maryland public school teacher; Dr. Adam Booker, Assistant Professor of Double Bass at Appalachian State University, and Dr. Colleen Booker Halverson of Richland Center, Wisconsin, author, English professor and mentor at Western Governors University. Mr. Booker and Claudette have nine grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.