The Northwest Minnesota Arts Council announces that Jim Kent of Crookston has been selected as the 2018 Northwest Minnesota Star Artist of the Year for his lifetime achievement in music.

    Kent is a retired elementary music teacher and worked in staff development in the Crookston School District. He also taught elementary music education classes at the University of Minnesota Crookston. Kent is a tireless advocate for the arts in the Crookston community. He has served as president of the Crookston Civic Music League and Chair of the Pirate Fine Arts Boosters, performed with the Crookston Community Theater, and directed the Wesley United Methodist Church Choir for over fifty years.

    Art Teacher Gary Stegman shared, “I was fortunate to work shoulder to shoulder with Jim Kent for seven years. I saw Jim in action and can tell you he is good at what he does. Always. He’s thorough, well prepared, and the ultimate professional. He cares more for those he works with, cares that they do well, cares for his community to the point that he works and sacrifices for it. Jim makes us all better. I respect no one more than I respect Jim Kent.”

    Kent disclosed that music was the path he was always on. Voice is his specialty. Of the impact of music on individuals and society he said, “Music speaks to the soul. It transcends speech -- really speaks to humanity in a way that nothing else can.”

    Associate Professor and Director of Music/Theater at the University of Minnesota-Crookston George French also praised his abilities and commitment. 

    “Working with Jim has always been a pleasure because, in my opinion, he is the best singer in town. His ability is truly at the professional level. Jim deserves every award that might be appropriate since his commitment to the arts is outstanding.”

    Belinda Fjeld a fellow music teacher explained, “It was a joy working with Jim. He was a wonderful role model and co-worker. Jim has shared his passion and enthusiasm for music in the school, in his church and in the community. Crookston has been truly blessed through Jim’s love of music and his desire to share that love of music with others!”

    The Northwest Star Artist Award is given each year to recognize artists within our seven-county region who stand out in terms of artistry. “Of the Year” Award winners are nominated by area residents. This award comes with $5,000. Artists can only receive our Northwest Star Award once, as a lifetime achievement award. Funding for the Northwest Star comes from the McKnight Foundation.  

    The NMAC congratulates Kent on receiving the award, which comes with a $5,000 cash prize.