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Kingsport Music Club marks 91 years of music and service

Katherine Scoggins • Nov 15, 2018 at 10:30 AM

One day in 1927, a small group of women in Kingsport, Tennessee, got together and formed the Kingsport Music Club. According to the club’s constitution, the purposes of the club are to promote interest in and the study of music in the community, and to provide opportunities for the development of young musicians.

In those days, the activities of the Music Club were numerous: the Kingsport Archives contain many folders and boxes filled with written accounts of programs, fundraisers, special events, meetings and recitals. A Feb. 1, 1930 headline in the Kingsport Times-News reads: “Music Club Gives Colonial Tea.” Several meetings featured formal papers presented by club members. Italian and Scandinavian music was presented in a March 21 meeting. Following the presentation, several Music Club members performed piano, violin and vocal solos to illustrate Italian and Scandinavian music.

The Music Club was not all pleasure, however. The meetings took much time and preparation, especially in the spring and fall months when the club was preparing for National Music Week and members were attending numerous rehearsals for concerts and recitals to be performed during that week. The club sponsored groups of members in choirs, small ensembles, even mixed groups for cantatas and larger works.

As the decades passed, more women joined the work force and did not have as much time to give to meetings held during the day. They felt strongly, however, that music was still important to learn and to share.

“Music enhances the education of our children by helping them to make connections and broadens the depth with which they think and feel.” - Yo-Yo Ma.

Although Yo-Yo Ma was not yet a household name, the women of the Kingsport Music Club felt that the time was right to begin working with children and youth in a serious way. While the club continued to present scholarly programs, three guest artists captured the public’s attention when they presented a concert of “Music From Grand Opera.” Over 100 members and guests met at the Kingsport Utilities Building. The artists were Miss Mary Riley, Mr. Jack Thacker and Dr. Jack Coldiron.

One of the first things the Music Club did was to present a plaque and scholarship at Dobyns-Bennett High School at an assembly at the school. Dr. Jack Coldiron, recipient of the award in 1944, served as ‘master of ceremonies.’ Mrs. L.P. Gregory, winner in 1935, opened the program by presenting Debussy’s “The Sunken Cathedral.” Dr. Coldiron, baritone, is currently a professor of voice at Southwestern Seminary in Texas. He has made several trips back to Kingsport over the years to his “home church,” First Baptist, and rarely misses the opportunity to express his gratitude for the scholarship money he was given by the Music Club while a college student. It was Dr. Coldiron and numerous other recipients of scholarships that began an impressive legacy and relationship between young musicians and the Kingsport Music Club.

Today, the Kingsport Music Club meets monthly, from September through May with no meeting held in January. Music programs are held at each meeting and the meeting locations vary from members’ homes, to area churches, to local meeting venues. The monthly meetings are held the first Friday of each month, with the club yearbook listing a calendar of each meeting date, time, program topic and host/hostess committee.

It still takes its relationship with youth - and the support of music education - seriously. That commitment is evident each year with the Young Artists’ recital and KMC Senior Award Competition. Open to senior students who participate in an established music program within the immediate vicinity of Kingsport, the competition awards an engraved plaque and cash award to the most outstanding performer. A number of scholarships are also presented each fall.

* The Will George Scholarship is a need-based scholarship for music lessons. This $400 scholarship is available for a deserving student in grades 9-12 who participates in an established music program within the greater Kingsport area or takes lessons from a music teacher within the greater Kingsport area.

* The Anna Gamble Music Scholarship is a need-based scholarship for private music lessons. The $400 scholarship is available for student in grades 6-8 who participates in an established music program within the Kingsport area or is taking lessons from a music teacher within the greater Kingsport area.

* The Bethel-Jackson/Ellis Scholarship is a need-based scholarship, awarded by the Kingsport Music Club for private music lessons. The $400 scholarship is available for a deserving student in grades 6-12 who participates in an established music program within the greater Kingsport area or is taking lessons from a music teacher within the greater Kingsport area.

The Music Club is currently accepting applications for the scholarship listed above. The deadline to apply for those scholarships is Nov. 30. For more information or to obtain an application, contact Scholarship Committee chairman Wally Boyd by email at wallyandjanboyd@gmail.com.

“We hope to see a lot of new faces at our Music Club Programs this year,” says Mandie Metzger, current president of the Kingsport Music Club. “We have wonderful programs, featuring some interesting and very talented musicians. Please feel free to join us by contacting me and arranging a time to visit.”

For more information, email Mandie Metzger at metzger@chartertn.net or Tammie Davis at tammiejr@gmail.com.

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