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, seven people have served as conductor: Abner Grender, Paul Tse, David Benson, Richard Kennedy, Bryan Bolton, Richard Bowers, and Wendy Saylor. 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.
Wendy Saylor is the newest conductor of the Voices of Appalachia. Wendy is a native of Tampa, Florida. She is a graduate of the University of the Cumberlands with a Bachelor 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, Wendy 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. She has had this position for 20 years. In addition to her bachelor’s degree, Wendy 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 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. Wendy and her husband, Bob, have one daughter who is married and living in Georgetown, Kentucky, and has blessed them with twin grandsons.
Meet the Voices of Appalachia
Dr. Michelle McLeese
Mr. Bob Saylor
Accompanied by: Mrs. Debbie Evans
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.