Bagpiper again leads graduates

Bagpiper Kennesaw State University’s spring commencement ceremonies were held earlier this month and May’s graduates again were led into the KSU Convocation Center by bagpiper Tom Crawford, a Cobb County resident. Crawford, wearing a black and gold kilt, has been leading the procession of new graduates, faculty and staff at every ceremony the past five years.

So, some may ask, how does a person become the bagpiper for Kennesaw State commencements?

“My instructor and mentor, Winter Taylor, was originally the bagpiper and I was working with her quite a bit before she passed away suddenly in 2012,” Crawford said. “So, I stepped in to play the commencements.

“We (Taylor and I) had been working on a bagpiping summer school that met at Kennesaw for two or three summers, so I stepped in and also helped take that over.”

Crawford has been well received at KSU and truly enjoys being a part of the graduation celebrations.

“I love seeing all the excitement of people stepping out into a new part of their lives,” Crawford said. “The families are always so excited, and the professors and faculty always make me feel really welcome.”

Crawford operates his business, Occasional Music, out of Marietta, Georgia. He started playing rock music more than 50 years ago and since 2000, has been a member of some of the best pipe bands in Georgia. Besides bagpipes, Crawford plays acoustic and electric guitar, bass guitar and double bass, mandolin, Irish bouzouki and some tin whistle. He also has experience with the banjo and pedal steel guitar.

Currently, Crawford serves as the pipe major for the North Georgia Pipes & Drums band. He also is a member of Keltic Kudzu and the Lutheran Church of the Resurrection Praise Band.

Over the years, Crawford has performed with such acts as The Chieftains and Celtic Woman, which was at Atlanta’s Fox Theater. He also played in a band that opened for Rod Stewart at Philips Arena a few years back. Additionally, Crawford once was a part of the halftime show at a University of Tennessee football game where he was in front of more than 100,000 people. “That was probably my biggest audience,” Crawford said about his experience at UT’s Neyland Stadium.

Although he plays in front of much smaller crowds at Kennesaw State, Crawford has become synonymous with and a big part of KSU’s commencements, which are some of the most important and prestigious events held on campus.

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