MSU music faculty member boosts All-Steinway Initiative efforts

Contact: Paige Watson

Jackie Edwards-Henry is pictured with a brand new Steinway & Sons piano recently purchased for the Department of Music’s All-Steinway Initiative. (Photo by Beth Wynn)

STARKVILLE, Miss. —A veteran Mississippi State music education professor is making an impactful contribution to the Department of Music’s All-Steinway Initiative in honor of her late parents William E. Edwards Jr. and Martha Edwards, as well as in memory of her late husband William P. “Bill” Henry.

Recently celebrating her 26th year as a faculty member, Jackie Edwards-Henry is gifting the project with $165,000 for a new Steinway Model “D” 9-foot concert grand piano. Her beloved husband also served 25 years as a professor for MSU’s Department of Chemistry.

Having played piano since the age of 3, Henry said a love of music was instilled in her early in life thanks to many special people, including those she is honoring with the gift.

“I’ve been really blessed by wonderful people in my life who supported my music making and so I wanted to honor them,” said Henry.

In addition to joining more than 185 institutions of higher learning and conservatories throughout the world with this commitment to excellence, the university seeks to become the first Mississippi school holding the prestigious honor.

Henry said her mother was a longtime pianist, and her father was a lover of all music. Henry also recalled the time her late husband surprised her with a Steinway model “B” 7-foot grand piano as an engagement gift on Valentine’s Day before they married. For the couple’s 10th anniversary, his gift to her was a harpsichord.

Based in Queens, New York, Steinway & Sons is the internationally renowned manufacturer of pianos. Founded in 1853, the company has been honored with numerous awards and granted more than 100 patents over its long history. For more, visit

Henry said, “The music department has served the community, institution and region with concert music, so a big part of this initiative will help continue that tradition.”

The department offers undergraduate degrees in music and music education. Since 2013, it has made inroads to purchase new pianos after an inventory of existing pianos in use reflected an average age of nearly 40 years, with many in poor condition.

“We’re trying to show the importance of music, and the quality of these pianos will enhance that effort,” said Henry.

An additional $1.75 million in gifts, which includes an endowment to ensure the department will be able to properly maintain the pianos for many years to come, is needed for completion of the All-Steinway Initiative at the university.

“Music speaks in ways that words can’t,” Henry emphasized. “It goes straight to the emotions. I was so grateful to have music in my life when I’ve gone through the challenging times.”

A special 88 Keys Program enables contributors to gift any amount toward the All-Steinway Initiative. Gifts will help purchase keys on a piano, benches, faculty and practice room upright pianos and grand pianos. Individuals, groups and corporations may contact Trish Cunetto, director of development for the College of Education, at or 662-325-6762 for more information on supporting the initiative.

Learn more about the MSU College of Education’s nationally accredited Department of Music at or Facebook and Twitter @msstatemusic.

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at