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Alice Lloyd College’s Voices of Appalachia Choir will set out on its first tour since 2019 this Thursday, May 11th.

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, eight people have served as conductor: Abner Grender, Paul Tse, David Benson, Richard Kennedy, Bryan Bolton, Richard Bowers, Wendy Saylor, and Mindy Rubin. Over the years, there have been approximately 700 to 800 choir members, 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. The choir sings shape note/sacred harp (in a cappella), traditional, choral, praise/worship, and Bluegrass Gospel selections.

A number of noteworthy and memorable places have been included in the choir’s travels. They have had the 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 mountain people’s deep feelings about their heritage and region.

Mrs. Wendy Saylor and Dr. Mindy Rubin are Co-Directors of the Voices of Appalachia. Mrs. Saylor has been the Voices of Appalachia conductor for over 20 years. Mrs. Saylor is a native of Tampa, Florida. She is a graduate of the University of the Cumberlands with a bachelor’s degree in music education. Meeting her husband at Cumberland, they began their teaching careers in Knott County, Kentucky, in 1976. Wendy taught elementary music, beginning band, and high school choir. She retired from the Knott County School System after 33 years. Along with her teaching career, Mrs. Saylor was the Choral Director of the Hazard Community Civic Chorus for 10 years and is presently the Choir Director of the Hindman First Baptist Church Adult Choir, in Hindman, Kentucky. In addition to her bachelor’s degree, Mrs. Saylor has a fifth-year graduate program degree in education from Morehead State University. She has held a position as an adjunct faculty member at Alice Lloyd College for 12 years. The last 8 years included serving as the Music Instructor at The June Buchanan School – a private, K-12 college-preparatory school on the campus of Alice Lloyd College. Mrs. Saylor and her husband, Bob, have one daughter who is married and living in Georgetown, Kentucky, and twin grandsons.

Dr. Rubin received her Doctorate of Musical Arts in Violin Performance from The University of South Carolina, and her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the Manhattan School of Music. She has performed with some of the finest conductors and orchestras throughout Europe including concerts in Berlin, Hamburg, Milan, and Helsinki, and in the United States at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and at The White House. Mindy has performed or toured with musical legends including Tony Bennett, Bobby McFerrin, and Mannheim Steamroller and in films with Sir Georg Solti and Dudley Moore. In 1995, Dr. Rubin was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to Finland where she finished her dissertation on “The Violin and Piano Works of Jean Sibelius.” Dr. Rubin is an adjunct professor of music as well as communication studies at Alice Lloyd College, and has over 25 years of teaching experience spanning Pre-K through college level. In her spare time, Dr. Rubin enjoys traveling with her husband, Mark, and doting on their three dogs.

To find out when and where you can hear the Voices during their 5 stop tour spanning 3 states, check out the schedule below. Also below is a list of this year’s members of the Voices of Appalachia.

Tour Dates and Locations:

  • May 11 @ 7 pm- First Baptist Church, Camden, TN
  • May 12 @ 7 pm- First Baptist Church, Pine Bluff, AR
  • May 14 @ 3 pm- African American Museum, Tyler, TX
  • May 17 @ 3 pm- Conservatory at Alden Bridge, The Woodlands, TX
  • May 18 @ 7 pm- Crossroads Baptist Church, The Woodlands, TX

Choir Members:

  • Soprano-
    • Madison Adams, Sr, Jeremiah, KY
    • Jaelyn Sanford, Sr, Harlan, KY
    • Madison Sizemore, Jr, Manchester, KY
  • Alto-
    • Gracie Padgett, So, Waynesburg, KY
    • Lindsey Saylor, Sr, Harlan, KY
    • Machaela Short, So, Welch, WV
    • Sydney Thompson, So, Pippa Passes, KY
  • Baritone-
    • Jacob Sparkman, So, Whitesburg, KY
    • Rob Saylor, ALC Faculty Member
  • Co-Directors-
    Wendy Saylor and Mindy Rubin