Kashmere High School had one of the “hippest” and all about the “funk” elite stage bands during 1960 up until 1978. The group was composed of students who were all-#Black, and the high school was located in a predominantly black neighborhood known as Kashmere Gardens in Houston, Texas. The band was known by other schools as being unbeatable when it came to performing against one another. The band was under the leadership of Music teacher Conrad O. Johnson, who had attended an Otis Redding concert during 1967 and was inspired to take his group to a different level. Johnson wanted to open doors and break down color barriers for his young band students, and he did what he set out to do in many ways.
Under Johnson’s training the high school band won national championships in band competitions. The band regularly competed in regional and national music tournaments. In 1972, the all-black group won the All-American High School Stage Band Festival in Mobile, Ala., during the tenure of George Wallace, that state’s segregationist Governor Johnson was the band arranger, director, and main composer for the band.
The Kashmere Stage band recorded eight albums during its life time. One of their two-disc compilation album of recordings is Texas Thunder Soul 1968-1974. It was released on Now-Again Records in 2006. The first disc contains their studio recordings and the second disc has a 12-minute video documentary about the group, Texas Jewels. The band was known for their unique sound of contemporary funk that sounded equal to popular bands such as the Bar-Kays and JB’s. The Kashmere Stage band reunited in 2008 for the first time in 30 years to pay tribute to Conrad Johnson who was 92 at the time. The film was directed by Mark Landsman. The story centered on the reunion, the music, and the honoring of band leader legend Conrad Johnson. Johnson died in 2008, just a day after the second of the Kashmere reunion concerts.