Venice musician honored by Madison County as Living Legend

Wilbert Glasper

 Venice musician honored by Madison County as Living Legend

EDWARDSVILLE — Madison County recognized a local saxophonist Wednesday night as a “Living Legend” for his musical talent and contributions in the community.

Chairman Kurt Prenzler presented Wilbert Glasper of Venice with the 5th annual Madison County Living Legends Community Service Award at the county board meeting. The award is given annually to county residents who make extraordinary contributions to their communities during Black History Month.

Glasper thanked the board for its recognition. He is a longtime musician and in the early 1960s, he and his brother were the first African Americans integrated into the band program at Madison Elementary School.

“I knew music was something I wanted to get into in the fourth grade,” Glasper said.

Glasper’s musical career took off from that time. He played throughout his elementary and high school years and continued into his adult life.

Glasper is known throughout the Metro East and the St. Louis Metropolitan communities for his musical talent. In September 2018, the Musicians’ Association of St. Louis, American Federation of Musicians, recognized Glasper with the George Smith Diversity Award for 49 years of loyalty, dedication and fellowship.

“Music brings together all types of diversity,” Glasper said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re white, black, Indonesian or Chinese. We get together and we play music — we jam.”

He said in music people come together for a common cause.

He said one of his greatest moments was performing for former President Barack Obama while playing with the Dave Hylla’s Good Time Band. 

“Music is still the greatest thing we can enjoy,” Glasper said. “All different genres of music. I’ve been playing at my church for 36 years." 

He serves as a resident musician for the New Salem Missionary Baptist Church of Venice and currently plays with the Granite City Swing and Concert Band. 

“I play the gospel and I play other genres too, but when it’s all said and done (musicians) take the notes on the paper, read them and make them sound good to you.” 

In addition to his music career Glasper serves as director of Tri-City YMCA Board, alderman in Madison, commissioner on the Madison County Housing Authority; and on the Madison and Venice Police pension boards. He served for more than 20 years as Venice city clerk and as Venice School Board president. 

Glasper’s wife, Gussie Glasper, serves as Madison County Board member for District 23.