The Alice Lloyd College choir, the Voices of Appalachia, tours annually in the spring to various parts of the United States performing the hymns and ballads of the southern Appalachian highlands. The choir sings both a cappella and with accompaniment.
A number of noteworthy and memorable places have been included in the choir’s travels. They have had opportunity to perform on shows, such as NBC’s The TODAY Show, the Kelly Lang Show from Los Angeles, and a special segment on CBS Sunday Morning with Charles Kuralt entitled the “Pride of Appalachia.” The Voices have had the opportunity to share our rich heritage in diverse venues, including the Ahwahne Hotel at Yosemite National Park, California; the National Presbyterian Church in Washington, DC; the National Cathedral in Washington, DC; and Gettysburg National Park. Through their vocal performances, the choir members strive to convey the deep feelings mountain people have about their heritage and region.
The Voices of Appalachia was formed in 1962 when Abner Grender came to Caney Junior College to teach music. During the history of the Voices, six people have served as conductor: Abner Grender, Paul Tse, David Benson, Richard Kennedy, Bryan Bolton, and Richard Bowers. There have been approximately 700 to 800 choir members over the years, all of whom are still considered a part of the Voices family.
The Voices of Appalachia is a great asset to both Alice Lloyd College and the Appalachian region; the first priority is the benefit derived by the individual members from participation in the choral experience. Amazingly enough, the College does not offer any type of music major or minor, therefore, all members of the Voices of Appalachia are performing out of the love they hold for their heritage and the musical traditions that support their background.
Along with the week-long spring tour, which is student-planned, the choir also performs an on-campus Christmas concert and one or two Christmas productions at off-campus sites. In addition, each April the Voices present their spring program to the campus community upon returning from their tour. Occasionally, the choir will be asked to perform at various on-campus and off-campus events. They also record their music for distribution on CD.
The choir sings shape note/sacred harp (in a cappella), traditional, choral, praise/worship, and Bluegrass Gospel selections.
Richard Bowers is the newest conductor of The Voices of Appalachia. Richard is a native of Knott County and was previously a member of The Voices of Appalachia. He received his music training from Tennessee Temple University in Chattanooga, Tennessee and has extensive experience with music ensembles and choirs. He has toured the continental U.S., Jamaica and, most recently, Moscow, Russia. He has served as a Youth Minister and Music Minister at churches in Kentucky and Georgia, and he currently is a music educator with Rural Church Development Alliance, teaching Guitar and Music Theory.
Richard’s wife, Beth Ann, will also be joining ALC as the new accompanist for The Voices of Appalachia. Beth Ann previously served in this same capacity under the direction of former VOA conductor, Richard Kennedy. She has a degree in Elementary Education with a certification in Gifted Education. She minored in music with a voice proficiency. Prior to taking this position, Beth Ann conducted or accompanied choirs at the Elementary and Secondary levels. She also works with Rural Church Development Alliance, where she teaches Voice and Piano.
Richard and Beth Ann have three daughters: Claire, Corrie, and Rylie Grace.
Meet the Voices of Appalachia
Five years ago, the choir included less than 30 members. Today, Richard Bowers, the current director of the Voices of Appalachia, has expanded the choir’s membership to over 60 students! Bowers also noticed that many of his choir members were interested in playing traditional mountain instruments. To facilitate and encourage that interest, he began the Acoustic Instrument Ensemble. The ensemble, which is a stand-alone group that travels and performs with the choir, grew from featuring only the banjo to now include the acoustic guitar, upbright bass, mandolin, and fiddle.
The group also represents Alice Lloyd College in one or two shows a month, independent of the choir.
The Voices of Appalachia are:
⸗Amanda Ashworth - Junior – Viper, KY (Guitar)
Chelsea Burke – Senior – Virgie, KY
Morgan Castle – Sophomore – Lucasville, OH
Kayleigh Eastwood - Sophomore – Aberdeen, OH
Destiny Gross – Junior – Yeaddiss, KY
⸗Christen Hurt – Sophomore – Hazard, KY
Bonnie Morgan – Senior – Hyden, KY
Danielle Slone – HS Senior – Raven, KY
⸗Alli Boling - Freshman – Bristol, TN
Jee Choe - Sophomore – Willow Wood, OH
Tiffany Endicott - Sophomore – Prestonsburg, KY
Daina Gilbert - Freshman – Barbourville, KY
Sarrah Huber - Senior – Hazard, KY
Mary Isaac - Sophomore – Fort Gay, WV
Shiloh Jekel - Junior – Fisty, KY
⸗Stephanie Moore - Senior – Hazard, KY (Fiddle)
⸗Kinsee Petree - Sophomore – Williamsburg, KY (Fiddle)
Gabrielle Schwartz - Sophomore – Mesopotamia, OH
Sarah Smallwood - Freshman – Manchester, KY
Makayla Williamson - Junior – Prestonsburg, KY
Kyle Coleman - Sophomore – Chesapeake, OH
Kaleb Huber - Freshman – Hazard, KY
Austin Ison - Senior – Viper, KY
Caleb Lofton - Senior – Manchester, OH
⸗Alex Mitchell - Sophomore – Cutshin, KY (Guitar)
Clayton Osborne - Senior – Louisa, KY
Chris Bowen - Senior – Inez, KY
Jackson Driskill - Senior – Jackson, KY
⸗John Driskill - Freshman – Jackson, KY
Ethan Gibson - Sophomore – Manchester, KY
Anthony Gonzales - Sophomore – Lexington, KY
K. Drake Grizzell - Junior – Ashton, WV
Ian Hall - Sophomore – Emmalena, KY
Joshua Ingram - Senior – Pineville, KY
Bryce Sargent - Junior – London, KY
⸗Nick Short - Freshman – Viper, KY
Adam Stepp - Junior – Lovely, KY
Alex White - Junior – Lovely, KY
⸗Jay Woods - Sophomore – Leslie, KY (Guitar, Dobro)
⸗Alfred & Shirley Wampler Caudill
Richard Bowers, Director of Voices of Appalachia
Beth Ann Bowers, Accompanist of Voices of Appalachia
Margo Sparkman, ALC Director of Development
Priscilla Fraley, ALC Director of Donor Relations
Ron Howard, May 2014 Graduate (Banjo)
The Music of the Voices of Appalachia
Below are selections performed by The Voices of Appalachia on their newest album, I Will Arise and Go to Jesus. Simply click each song title to listen.