By Lanier Laney
We can thank God for giving a “call” to Melanie Williams and her husband who came back to Beaufort after a 30 year tenure in the Midwest 11 years ago. The Baptist Church of Beaufort has been the main beneficiary of her musical skills and guidance as well as the LowCountry Children’s Chorus, which she founded and directs. Melanie is Minister of Music at The Baptist Church of Beaufort.
Melanie says: “I have been a church musician ever since I began piano lessons with our church organist in my childhood back in Waynesboro, GA, and began accompanying children’s choirs in middle school. We did not have a choral program in our public schools, so the church music program helped to fill that void and nurture young musicians for the future. We did have a strong band program in our schools where I played saxophone and bassoon and gained my first conducting experience as drum majorette. There’s nothing quite as musically exciting for a teenager as cueing those cymbal crashes for the National Anthem! One can be ‘hooked for life’ as a conductor following that experience.”
Her Path in Life
“I earned a bassoon scholarship to the University of Georgia my freshman year, but decided that I really did not want to go through life with an extreme overbite and carrying a bassoon around with me, so I switched my major to vocal performance,” says Melanie. “As my voice grew and matured, it led me to many exciting places. In addition to the classroom and vocal studio, there were also wonderful operatic, choral, vocal recital performances and church sanctuary experiences that helped develop a keen respect and love for the beauty of the human voice and a passion for the gift of singing.”
The Founding of LowCountry Children’s Choir
“LowCountry Children’s Chorus came about a year after Alan and I arrived in Beaufort. I had formerly directed the Central Illinois Children’s Chorus (Champaign, IL) and founded the Northern Kentucky Children’s Ensemble (Northern Kentucky University) while in the Cincinnati area. The search committee here at The Baptist Church of Beaufort was excited about the possibility of a musical community connection through a staff member when I came ‘on board’ and has graciously allowed us to function as a community choir ‘in residence’ at the church for ten years. Through the help of the church providing us rehearsal space and a beautiful performance venue with its historic sanctuary, LowCountry Children’s Chorus has enjoyed a rich history of successful performance within our community, our region, our state and our nation over the past ten years! Our faithful accompanist, Mrs. Linda Keene, who teaches music at Mossy Oaks Elementary, has been with us since that first rehearsal in September 2001, and we have also been under-girded with many helping hands and in-kind donations of parents, board members and support staff from the church over the years”.
Melanie is married to Alan Williams, a computer systems administrator for 40 years. Her oldest daughter, Howell, 32, is married to Steve Bryant and works at the Learning House Company in Louisville, KY, as their Director of Student Success. Her second daughter, Haley, age 29, is married to Bart Reed with two children named Mac, 4, and Ava, 11 months, and teaches Middle School Music in Crestwood, KY.
What She loves about Beaufort
“There are many things that we love about Beaufort, but I have often said that the intoxicating fragrance from the tea olive shrub is enough to lure anyone from anywhere back to the South…it is an unforgettable aromatherapy from my childhood, which now I liken to the ‘fragrance of Christ.’ And the fact that there are beautiful flowers and shrubs in bloom in the winter here! In the Midwest, one cannot count on any living, blooming thing until after May 15! It took a while for our bodies to acclimate to the heat of the summer, but we have learned to tolerate it as long as we can keep the humidity at bay.”
More about the LowCountry Children’s Chorus
“We are beginning our 20th semester of existence this month (we operate on two 15-week semesters per year), and we have averaged a range of about 30-40 students per semester drawing from over 14 public schools, private schools, parochial schools and home schooled students. LCCC, which began in 2002, is an auditioned tuition based community chorus, open to treble voices ages 9 and older. Some of our treble singers (boys and girls) have stayed with us as long as five or six years! Unfortunately, some of our young male singers must retire earlier due to voices changing.”
Many touching memories over the Year
“There are many wonderful memories, but one that stands out is watching our choristers organize themselves at the base of the Statue of Liberty and sing an a cappella rendition of “May the Road Rise to Meet You” to the great city across the harbor. I was overcome with emotion as were all of our parents within earshot—it was a priceless experience!”
LCCC’s Spring Semester 2012 begins this month and we are still auditioning prospective young singers over the next two weeks. We are looking forward to planning our final concerts and outings in celebrating our tenth anniversary.”
If interested in auditioning for the chorus, please contact Dr. Melanie Williams at 843.252.4104 or firstname.lastname@example.org. LowCountry Children’s Chorus also has a Facebook account and our website is www.bcob.org/lccc/html
If you would like to become a “friend of LCCC” they will gladly accept donations to their scholarship funds for deserving young singers. They are a 5013C non-profit organization and their mailing address is LowCountry Children’s Chorus, P.O. Box 2007, Beaufort SC 29902.