Pellissippi State hosts dedication of Dr. Sharon Lord Music Suite

Dr. Sharon Lord
Dr. Sharon Lord

Pellissippi State Community College hosted a ceremony honoring well-known Knoxvillian Sharon Lord and dedicating the Dr. Sharon Lord Music Suite on Sept. 13. The suite is located on the Pellissippi Campus in the Alexander Building, where the event took place.

The Dr. Sharon Lord Music Suite was unveiled by Lord and the college’s Bill Brewer, Music program coordinator. The Pellissippi State Foundation received the gift from Lord on behalf of the Music program.

Lord, a community leader, motivational speaker and management consultant, provided an enthusiastic and memorable presentation. She spoke of the joy she receives from music and of her desire to create more joy by sharing music with others.

One of the highlights was an impromptu performance by Lord and her sister, Betsy. The duet entertained attendees with an a cappella song about their mother, Claudia. The words were written by Sharon Lord and set to the tune of the popular 1920s song “Has Anybody Seen My Gal?”

“My mother, Claudia Stuart, was my early inspiration for music,” said Lord. “She always dreamed of playing the piano and could play by ear on the black keys. My earliest memories are of Momma being able to play any song without sheet music.

“I thought she was magical. She seemed to know all the words to all the songs. She never got to take piano lessons, but she insisted that all six of her children take lessons.”

Dr. Sharon Lord
Dr. Sharon Lord

Also instrumental in laying the foundation of Lord’s lifelong love of music was William Barrett, a band director and math teacher.

“William Barrett was my mentor, inspiration and motivator in music beginning when I was in fourth grade,” she said. “He was determined to create a band in our high school. In order to do that, he would give free lessons and provide the musical instrument to promising students in grades four through six.

“I’ll never forget when he put an E-flat alto saxophone in my hands and I squawked the first sound out of that sax. I wasn’t much taller than the saxophone case. I could already read sheet music because of my exposure to piano lessons. I loved it!”

Lord expressed her delight at being honored by Pellissippi State.

“I have chosen throughout my life to contribute to the empowerment of children and adults,” she said. “Music is probably the most magical way to empower children—and the child in all of us. Music education should be the norm for every child. It is a privilege to contribute to the quality of music education at Pellissippi State.”

A Steinway Celebration concert featuring noted pianist William DeVan, an official “Steinway Artist,” took place immediately following the dedication ceremony. The concert celebrated Pellissippi State’s achievement of becoming an All Steinway School.

Also a supporter of the All Steinway School campaign, Lord has played key leadership roles on the local, national and international level in academia, business and government service.

A West Virginia native, she served as the U.S. deputy assistant secretary of defense during the administration of President Ronald Reagan and later as West Virginia’s secretary of human services. The author of numerous books and publications, she continues to speak internationally on topics of creative leadership, healthy lifestyles and managing challenging transitions.

The Pellissippi State Foundation kicked off the All Steinway School fundraising campaign in 2010 in order to elevate the college’s Music program to world-class status. Thanks to the campaign, the community college now boasts 13 Steinway pianos in studios, practice rooms and performance venues.

Not only is Pellissippi State the premier All Steinway community college in Tennessee, but it is also the fourth All Steinway community college in the nation and one of only about 120 All Steinway colleges and universities in the world.

For information on the Steinway Maintenance Society, call the Pellissippi State Foundation at (865) 694-6529 or visit