Born in Little Rock Arkansas, Benjamin L. Pruitt Sr. attended the city’s segregated schools in the 1950s. Despite an inconsistency in teachers from year to year, Ben Pruitt persevered as a musician and received a college scholarship. He began his professional career in Arkansas in 1961 after graduating from Arkansas Agricultural and Mechanical – now known as Arkansas-Pine Bluff. After teaching in Arkansas where he conducted award-winning bands for five years at Walker and Columbia High Schools, Ben moved to Detroit in 1966. He directed the Detroit Public Schools instrumental music ensembles at Wilson Junior High (1966-1972), Henry Ford High School (1972-1987), and Cass Technical High School (1987-1999). In 1999, Ben Pruitt accepted the position of supervisor and director in the office of Fine Arts for the Detroit Public Schools. Pruitt also toured nationally with the Joe Simon Rhythm and Blues Band led by international jazz legend Charlie Gabriel. In 1977, 1996, and 1999 The Michigan School Band and Orchestra Association named Ben Pruitt their Teacher of the Year.
Ben’s students agree on his excellence as an educator. Two of the outstanding trumpet players who learned how to improvise in jazz from Ben are John Douglas (now with Detroit’s Sun Messengers) and Dwight Adams – a national first call trumpet player. Ben is also exceedingly proud of the student, drummer Ali Jackson, now with The Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra directed by Wynton Marsalis. Ben Pruitt made significant contributions to music in Detroit as an educator and with his love band, Ben’s Friends Big Band.
We are celebrating his legacy by creating an opportunity to enrich the lives of future scholars through their pursuit of higher education and excellence.
The board members of The Benjamin L. Pruitt Sr Scholarship Fund are comprised of honored family members dedicated to carrying on Ben’s desire to give students an opportunity to fulfill their educational dreams.
Benjamin L. Pruitt Sr gave his music, his heart and his life to serving the Detroit Music and arts community. With the cost of education ever on the rise, this scholarship is designed to aid and encourage young musicians of talent as they prepare for careers in music education. Scholarship details are coming soon.