It was 45 years ago when the club established its Music Scholarship Fund for the purpose of providing financial assistance to eligible graduating Seniors of Bradley County high schools who are planning to continue their education with a major in vocal or instrumental music at a college of their choice. Each year, applicants with a minimum high school GPA of B and a sponsor in good standing with the Music Club are invited to participate in an audition before a panel of judges that will determine a winner.
The Music Scholarship Fund is replenished through membership dues, donations, memorials and proceeds from ticket sales for benefit concerts. Contributions to the scholarship fund are welcomed by the club at any time and contributions are tax-deductible. Club records show that the very first donation to the Music Scholarship Fund was made by Mr. and Mrs. John Tyler in 1968.
Betsy Berry served as the first chairman of the Music Scholarship Committee. In subsequent years, the committee was chaired by Jackie Johnson, Martha Lessig, Easter Frady and other club members as needed. Pat Meagher currently chairs the committee.
Throughout the years, the Cleveland Music Club has shared many memorable benefit concerts with the community. In 1969, the first concert was held at the Fellowship Hall of the Broad Street United Methodist Church. It featured performances of several club members and the one-act comic opera, “The Telephone,” by Gian Carlo Menotti, with Jeannie Sawyer and Tom Boles.
“An Evening of the Arts” followed in 1970. Betsy Berry and Joyce Higgins presented a concert on two pianos in 1973. It was so popular that it prompted a two-piano encore performance by the duo in 1977.
Members are still talking about the “Keyboards” concert with seven pianos and 15 pianists presented in 1970, and about the “Keyboards ’84” benefit concert. Both were hosted by Cleveland State Community College.
The most recent benefit concert was coordinated and directed by club member Nancy Paul in April 2008. “Three Hand Bell Choirs” performed together at the Founders Hall of Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church. Participants were the bell choirs of North Cleveland Baptist Church, Broad Street United Methodist Church and the host, Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church.
Many of the former scholarship winners have shown their appreciation by performing at a club meeting in the year they won, and they have impressed members with talent and maturity for their age.
The list of scholarship winner over the past 45 years is long. They all showed great promise and worthiness of support through the club’s scholarship program. Here are just a few examples of recent winners who continued their studies at Lee University:
The 2010 winner, Adam Williams, had already earned acclaim prior to his graduation from Walker Valley High School by playing baritone saxophone in the All-East band and jazz band. He had attended the Tennessee Tech University All-Star symposium and the Lee University 2009 Honor band while maintaining a 4.0 GPA. At the September club meeting he introduced three of his friends with whom he had formed a jazz combo. They entertained with “Solar Flare” and “Autumn Leaves.”
It was quite a surprise when the 2011 winner, Victoria Betts, set up a marimba at the club’s September meeting mastering the simultaneous use of several mallets in each hand throughout her play of Smadbeck’s “Rhythmic Song.” She also graduated from Walker Valley High School.
The 2012 winner, Jordan Lawson Guyton, graduated from Cleveland High School. He not only impressed with a saxophone solo but also with his tenor solo of Andrea Bocelli’s arrangement of “The Lord’s Prayer.”
Among other past music scholarship winners were: Joe Taylor, Vicki Stewart, Charles Mason, Vicki Hamby, Emily Cline, Mary Lou Sorrells, Mary Joyce Higgins, Lana Holloway Arp, Danny Jones, Charlotte Hageman, Annette Hughes, Tony Bray, Cindi Hixson, Kerri Fisher, Wendy Trew, Beth Whitaker, Alissa Shield, Shannon Thomas, John Stubbs, Matt Clinard, Bethany Holtzclaw, Amber Patterson and Jordan Bailey.