Visiting Artist

Installation of Leo Twiggs: Requiem for Mother Emanuel

Immanuel: A Symposium

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On June 17, 2015 when Dylan Roof entered Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina he was entering the oldest African American church in the South, the home of the first independent black denomination in the United States in a city that was central to the slave trade in the United States. Roof, a young white man, murdered nine African American members of a Bible study group, sparking a series of events that brought the city, the state, and the country together long enough to finally drive state governments to take down from public buildings the battle flag of Northern Virginia, more commonly known as the Confederate flag. There were more than just political ramifications. Artist, Dr. Leo Twiggs said, “What I feel is that the tragedy changed our state in a way that I had not seen before. I think for us that was a shining moment where people came together not because of the color of their skin, but because of the humanness in their hearts. I think for the first time we started communicating heart to heart instead of head to head.” Twiggs responded with a series of nine batik paintings that chronicles a narrative of violence and redemption that not only refers to the Mother Emanuel massacre, but also serves as metaphor for the broader African American religious experience in this country.

“Immanuel: A Symposium” will take place at JCSM on the afternoon before the opening of Leo Twiggs: Requiem for Mother Emanuel. It will provide the opportunity to discuss the African American church, and its historical and contemporary role as both sanctuary and location for civic and political activism. Taking the exhibition as point of departure, the objective of the symposium will be to explore the history of the black church in the U.S., and to open a discussion about the historical intersections between the Christian conversion of enslaved Africans, and the metaphorical and real church as location and catalyst for spiritual and political redemption. “Immanuel,” the Hebrew word for “God is with us,” gave Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church its name, and the concept of “Immanuel” offers a powerful point of departure for both the artwork of Dr. Twiggs and the broader themes the Symposium will explore. The symposium will consist of four talks and a panel discussion leading up to the opening artist talk. JCSM has been deliberate in choosing a scholar who can address the history of the African American church both nationally and in Alabama, a scholar from Charleston, and scholars from the local community.

Auburn University’s Mosaic Theater will perform.

“Under Their Own Vine and Fig Tree: African Americans and the Church in Southern History”

Presented by Dr. Richard Bailey, Alabama historian and retired research specialist

“We Are Charleston”

Presented by Dr. Bernard E. Powers, Jr. Professor of History, College of Charleston

Following this presentation, there will be a break.

“‘The Most Segregated Hour in America’: Churches and Social Justice Across the Color Line, from the Civil Rights Era to the Present”

Presented by Dr. David Carter, Associate Professor of History, Auburn University, and Dr. Johnny Green, Assistant Vice President for Outreach in Student Affairs, Auburn University

Following this presentation, there will be a panel discussion and a break. 

“Requiem for Mother Emanuel,” Dr. Leo Twiggs, Professor Emeritus, South Carolina State University

Dr. Twiggs’s lecture will shed light on his conceptualization and resolution of works in his exhibition of nine batik paintings he made in response to the June 17, 2015 massacre in Emanuel AME Church in Charleston and to its aftermath and far-reaching consequences.

Opening reception for Requiem for Mother Emanuel immediately follows.

FILM@JCSM: The Artist’s of Camera Lucida

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This video contains an excerpt of the artist’s work.

On Thursday, November 3rd, Rick Silva will be participating in the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art’s first video art exhibition, Camera Lucida. Rick’s work is in the form of short, computer-generated videos featuring different types of birds. Silva has a series entitled “The Silva Field Guide to Birds of the Parallel Future.” These videos include clips of colorful and unique birds flying and existing within the frame of approximately thirty-second long videos. Dennis Harper, the curator at collections and exhibits at the museum, explains that “Visitors will encounter [the exhibit] as a sort of electronic flock soaring across a field of six wall-mounted monitors. This makes for a more monumental, immersive, and communal experience than when viewed in small frames on a mobile device or desktop computer. It’s very compelling to see the assortment of fantastical creatures looping in motion simultaneously.” Parts of this exhibit can be viewed on Silva’s website,

Rick Silva is an artist whose recent videos, websites and images explore notions of landscape and wilderness in the 21st century. He received an MFA from The University of Colorado in 2007, and has since shown extensively nationally and internationally, with recent solo exhibitions at TRANSFER Gallery in New York, Wil Aballe Art Projects in Vancouver, New Shelter Plan in Copenhagen, and Ditch Projects in Oregon. His projects are included in multiple permanent collections such as The Whitney Museum of American Art and the Borusan Contemporary Collection. WIRED called Silva’s videos “glitchy, curious things; some mesmerizing, some arresting.” He lives and works in Eugene Oregon where he is a professor of Art & Technology at the University of Oregon.


Written by Leslie Rewis, a Graduate Teaching Assistant in the English Department at Auburn University.

Film@JCSM: The Artists of Camera Lucida

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Film@JCSM: The Artists of Camera Lucida

On Thursday, September 29th, Rob Carter will be the second artist participating in the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art’s first video art exhibition, Camera Lucida. Carter’s work is in the form of short videos that he creates by using various cityscapes, both real and imagined, to explore ideas about environmental and architectural change. His video “Metropolis” shows the history of Charlotte, North Carolina. Using real images of Charlotte, Carter adds in various skyscrapers and sports arenas, effectively creating what could be the future urban structure with a dystopic twist. In his “Foobel (an alternative history)” video, sports arenas grow larger and larger, taking up most of the natural space around them, until a sports mega dome envelops the screen. According to Carter’s description, the video is a “satire of the need for bigger and bigger stages of any popular type of theatre at the expense of everything else.” Carter’s “Sun City” features the town of Benidorm, Spain and uses stop-motion animation to pay homage to the sun and the energy it gives the city.

This video contains an excerpt of the artist’s work, Metropolis by Rob Carter.

Rob Carter was originally from Britain but now lives in Richmond, Virginia. He has shown his work internationally, with solo exhibitions at Art In General in New York, Galerie Stefan Röpke in Cologne, Station Independent Projects in New York, Galeria Arnés y Ropke in Madrid and Fondazione Pastificio Cerere in Rome. He has also exhibited at Centre Pompidou-Metz in France, Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art in Japan, The Field Museum in Chicago, Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia and Museum of Arts and Design in New York. Carter has been awarded a Workspace residency with the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (2011–12) and a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship (2010). He recently returned from a productive three-month residency at Bemis Center for Contemporary Art in Omaha, Nebraska. The respondent for this event will be Professor Magdalena Garmaz, chair of the Environmental Design program at Auburn University.


Written by Leslie Rewis, a Graduate Teaching Assistant in the English Department at Auburn University.

Camera Lucida: Jillian Mayer Visits JCSM

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Internationally Acclaimed Artist Discusses Her Work

Jillian Mayer, one of the artist’s featured in Camera Lucida visited Auburn’s art museum to present her work to students and the community. She discusses what it means to her to have her work displayed here in Auburn, as well as her reaction when her most well known work, “I AM Your Grandma,” reached over three million views on YouTube.

Mayer’s work is in the form of common viral videos that swarm the internet daily. She has presented her work at galleries and museums internationally such as MoMA, MoCA:NoMi, BAM, Bass Museum, the Contemporary Museum of Montreal with the Montreal Biennial (2014) and film festivals such as Sundance, SXSW, and the New York Film Festival. Mayer’s recent awards include the Creative Capital Fellowship for 2015 as well as the South Florida Cultural Consortium’s Visual/Media Artists Fellowship in 2011 and in 2014.

Produced by Tracy Awino, Auburn University journalism senior

Film@JCSM: The Artists of Camera Lucida

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Film@JCSM: The Artists of Camera Lucida

On Thursday, September 8th, Jillian Mayer will be participating in the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art’s first video art exhibition, Camera Lucida. Her work is in the form of common viral YouTube videos which often have “click-bait” titles. Mayer pokes fun at some of the most common popular videos that become viral but are virtually meaningless. Her video with the most provocative title, “Hot Beach Babe Aims to Please” features a woman in a bathing suit walking out of the ocean while surrounded by computer mouse arrows. Mayer turns the common theme of these videos on their head and uses the arrows to show how everyone judges and stares at the woman in the short. In her video “MakeUp Tutorial HOW TO HIDE FROM CAMERAS”, she mimics the many viral how-to makeup videos on YouTube but with a twist. She advises her viewers on how to do their makeup in order to be unrecognizable by cameras, computers, and robots while walking around the city. Mayer uses common phrases generally found in make-up videos and repeats that her viewers need to make sure they are “breaking up that [the forehead] region.” Mayer’s most watched video features her in an eclectic range of costumes as she confronts her own future demise as well as what her future grandchild will think of her. “I AM Your Grandma” has over three million views on YouTube. All of her videos seek to turn a lens onto the culture of mainstream society and make it question the perspective from which is views the world.

This video contains and excerpt from the artist’s work, I AM Your Grandma

Mayer has presented her work at galleries and museums internationally such as MoMA, MoCA:NoMi, BAM, Bass Museum, the Contemporary Museum of Montreal with the Montreal Biennial (2014) and film festivals such as Sundance, SXSW, and the New York Film Festival. Mayer’s recent awards include the Creative Capital Fellowship for 2015 as well as the South Florida Cultural Consortium’s Visual/Media Artists Fellowship in 2011 and in 2014. The respondent to Jillian Mayer at this event is Hollie Lavenstein, an associate professor in the department of Communication and Journalism at Auburn University. Lavenstein says of Mayer’s work that it is “accessible, playful, yet cerebral all at once. Her visit is a terrific opportunity for Auburn to talk with an internationally-acclaimed artist who works seamlessly across multiple platforms.”

Written by Leslie Rewis, a Graduate Teaching Assistant in the English Department at Auburn University.

A Little Lunch Music 2/11: New Orleans Trombonist Finds Voice in Improvised Music

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On February 11 at noon, A Little Lunch Music will feature trombonist Jeff Albert and drummer Dave Capello for a free concert of improvised music in the Auditorium. Click here for the event page where you can read more about the performers and hear audio samples. They will also join Cullars Improvisational Rotation for our Jazz! Food! Art! event that night from 5-8 pm. More about the evening performance at this link.

“Episodes is a good word, ” said New Orleans trombonist Jeff Albert. He said he likes to use it instead of “pieces” or “songs” to describe the stand-alone sections of music he and drummer Dave Capello play when they perform improvised music. But they aren’t psychotic episodes. “Well, some of them are,” said Albert.

Series coordinator Patrick McCurry interviews Jeff Albert. For the full interview, click this link.

Albert is active in the worldwide community of improvised music, also called creative, adventurous, or free music. He tours with Hamid Drake and others well-known in the genre, and was named a Rising Star Trombonist in the Downbeat Critics Poll each year from 2011-2015.

Albert is an advocate for the music. He runs the Open Ears Music Series Tuesday nights at the Blue Nile in New Orleans. He also co-founded the New Orleans International Sound Exchange (N.O.I.S.E.) which yearly puts on the Hosting Improvising Performers Festival, or HIP Fest.

After studying jazz in college, Albert said he wanted to be a craftsman trombone player, making a living playing in horn sections and bands. By his late 20s, he said he had accomplished that goal, but it wasn’t enough.

“I realized I wanted to play music that had some artistic outlet for me,” said Albert. He said it was largely improvised music that fit that description.

Before moving to New Orleans in the early 1990s, Capello lived in New York. He worked in that city’s creative music scene with players like guitarist Bern Nix, bassist William Parker, and trumpeter Stephen Bernstein.

Capello and Albert have made two recordings together under the Breakfast for Dinner label. They released “Duets 2014” in 2015. “New Normal,” which includes Parker, will officially release in March. Both are currently available on the label’s website.

Thursday’s noon performance will feature the duo by themselves.


The duo will join Cullars Improvisational Rotation, a jazz trio from Auburn, for two additional shows. On Thursday night from 5-8 pm Central Time, the combined group will appear for the “Jazz! Food! Art!” after-hours event at the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art.

Cullars is a jazz trio based in Auburn. It includes guitarist Dan Mackowski, saxophonist Patrick McCurry, and bassist Jason DeBlanc. It is the house band Thursday nights at the museum.

On Friday night, February 12, from 7:00 to 9:00 pm Eastern Time, Albert and Capello will join Cullars at The Loft in Columbus, GA. Food and drink are served at the museum and at The Loft, and neither will require admission.

“We’re a jazz group, but we like to move out of the normal jazz parameters sometimes,” said McCurry, who also coordinates A Little Lunch Music. McCurry said he played with Albert years ago before he was immersed in this new kind of music.

“He’s at a completely different level, now,” said McCurry about Albert’s music, adding, “I’m excited to play with him again.” But although his group members together have under their belts decades of improvising in jazz and other styles, McCurry is a little trepidatious about the Thursday and Friday night shows. “It’s sort of risky music,” he said.

Albert said what he and Capello play is completely improvised, with no preset agreements about the direction the music will take. He said he will bring in some of his own compositions for the combined performances. Those pieces include text instructions for each player and allow more control over the flow of the music.

Albert said it would be easy for newer players to defer to experienced ones, and has been in the same situation as Cullars will be. But he said the pieces, called “Instigation Quartets,” democratize the process a little bit. They ease the interactions without removing the feeling of free improvisation.

A Little Lunch Music, 1/28: 52 Years in Music, Auburn Flutist Keeps Growing

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At noon on Thursday, January 28, flutist Nancy Vinson and pianist Laurelie Gheesling will perform a free concert as a part of the museum’s weekly series, “A Little Lunch Music.” The performance is being co-sponsored by Bob and Betty Hare, and George Kent.

Last year, Nancy Vinson attended the National Flute Association’s annual convention in Washington, DC. Part of going to the convention is for flutists to hear new music. After fifty-two years of playing, Vinson still wants to add to her repertoire.

“I feel like there’s so much new literature,” said Vinson. “And it’s hard,” she added, noting that newer pieces push the boundaries of what the instrument was designed to do.

Vinson said she enjoys challenging herself and choosing music outside of her comfort zone. “I want to keep growing as a musician,” she said. Thursday’s program will include all new pieces that she heard at the convention.

One example is composer Evelyn Simpson-Curenton’s arrangements of three traditional spirituals for flute and piano in a Gospel music style. At the convention, Vinson heard Simpson-Curenton’s granddaughter perform the pieces. Vinson said it is certainly not something she is used to playing.

For fourteen years, Vinson taught music appreciation at Auburn, but has had a private flute studio “forever.” She said she has had numerous students to place in the Alabama Music Educators Association’s all-state bands and orchestras.

“I just really enjoy teaching because I like to figure them out,” said Vinson, always asking, “How can I get through to them?”

She said four of her students have been state winners in Music Teachers National Association contests. The National Flute Association has chosen eight of her students to perform at conventions.

At the recent convention, Vinson noticed a lecture recital being given jointly by two Alabama teachers. University of Alabama flute professor Diane Boyd Schultz and Jacksonville State University’s Jeremy Benson shared the life and music of composer Yuko Uébayashi. They also played some of Uébayashi’s music.

Born in 1975 in Japan, Uébayashi moved to Paris in 1998 to study at the Paris Conservatory. Vinson said the school has a tradition of producing flute masters such as James Galway, Jean-Pierre Rampal, and Marcel Moyse. Vinson said because of these great players a lot of music for flute, such as Uébayashi’s, is inspired by French Impressionism.

“It’s just ethereal, just so calming,” said Vinson of Uébayashi’s music, adding, “I’ve never heard anything like this before.”

Gheesling is on the piano faculty at Auburn University. Thursday, she and Vinson will perform “Sonata for Flute and Piano” by Mel Bonis.

Bonis, a woman, was a contemporary of famous Impressionist composer Maurice Ravel. Both composers died in 1937. Vinson said Bonis’s first name was Melanie, but she used the name Mel because of how difficult it was in France for women to publish music.

“It is a wonderful piece for piano,” said Vinson. She said the piano part serves more than to accompany the flute, and that they are equally difficult. She said she loves Gheesling’s playing, adding, “I could not do this without her.”


View Nancy Vinson and Laurelie Gheesling’s biographies HERE

A Little Lunch Music, 1/21: Improvised-music trio, The Few

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At noon on Thursday, January 21, The Few, an improvised-music trio from Chicago will perform a free concert at Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art, Auburn University as a part of the museum’s weekly series, “A Little Lunch Music.” The performance is sponsored by Anonymous Friends of the Series. The café menu is available online.

At a Chicago club called Constellation, guitarist Steve Marquette was among three musicians invited to perform for an improvised-music series called 3-On-3. His task was to assemble a trio with the condition that the night of the public performance would be its members’ first time ever playing together.

Thus was born The Few. Joined by violinist Macie Stewart, who also sings in the group, and bassist Charlie Kirchen, Marquette said it was very successful. “It definitely felt like there was a lot of potential there that needed to be explored,” he said.

For decades, Chicago has been an epicenter of American art and culture. This includes a tradition of improvised music that goes back to the beginnings of free jazz in the 1960s. The members of The Few have been influenced by this tradition and consider themselves to be among the latest in the lineage of Chicago improvisers.

Last week, The Few returned to Constellation for a performance that kicked off its southern tour. Before January is over, Marquette, Stewart, and Kirchen will have performed improvised music for acoustic strings at venues in seven states. New Orleans will be its final stop. The tour will include some joint performances with other improvisers.

Before The Few, Marquette said he hadn’t played or even owned an acoustic guitar in a long time, having focused on developing his playing on electric. “I wanted to force myself to just deal with just the instrument without amplification, without effects,” said Marquette.

Improvised music is often an anything-goes approach to creating art. Performers will sometimes have multiple instruments on stage, or they may use unusual ways of creating sounds with traditional equipment.

Marquette said he likes the way The Few deals with the limitations of just these instruments and voice. He said it has taken his playing to places electric instruments would not likely have led.

Improvisation is often called instant composing, which Marquette says can be cliché. But he said the term applies well to The Few. Even though every piece they play is improvised, he said he likes that it can very often resemble written music.

Though Marquette and Kirchen have some background in jazz, Marquette said Stewart has a history of playing in rock bands and singer/songwriter projects. With the acoustic nature of the group, he said its sound sometimes contains an element of folk music.

“The key is that we get to those places organically, and we don’t feel compelled to force things into that area,” said Marquette.

Though the group does rehearse, its members also spend a good deal of time talking about the music, said Marquette. He said that these discussions combined with their desire to take inspiration from non-musical sources are important in keeping the music fresh and avoiding too much self-referencing.

Marquette said one of the best things about the group is that everyone is committed to these ideas. “That’s 75 percent of the battle,” he said, adding, “We have an opportunity to explore these things and really get at them.”

Series coordinator Patrick McCurry interviews guitarist Steve Marquette, member of The Few.

A Little Lunch Music, 1/7: Pianist Edward Forstman

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On Thursday, January 7, A Little Lunch Music will present a free concert by pianist Edward Forstman, a senior at Eastman School of Music and a native of Vestavia Hills. Mr. Forstman will perform music by Frédéric Chopin, Johann Sebastian Bach, Maurice Ravel, György Ligeti, and Johannes Brahms. The performance is being sponsored by Nick & Pat Giordano. The café menu is available online.

Since 2013, pianist Edward Forstman has performed recitals, both as a soloist and collaborator, at the Alabama Piano Gallery and at Rochester University’s Eastman School of Music, where he is a senior. His work as a collaborator has introduced him to virtuoso performers including flutist Paula Robison and contralto Mira Zakai.

At Eastman, he has developed his love for contemporary music by working directly with the school’s student composers and premiering their works; he has also pursued this passion in a professional realm, contacting and corresponding with living composers while he learns their music.

Having grown up in Vestavia Hills, Alabama, he studied for two years at the University of Alabama at Birmingham prior to his transfer to Eastman. During his period of study in Alabama, Mr. Forstman was the winner of local and statewide competitions, representing the state of Alabama at the Music Teachers’ National Association’s Southeastern Regional Conference in 2013. While at UAB, he was a member of the University Honors Program and represented that program in a masterclass at its annual national conference in 2012. In the years of 2010 and 2011, he earned the award for best high school Junior and Senior, respectively, from the Alabama Music Teacher’s Association.

At summer festivals in 2008 and 2010, Edward performed with the National Academic Symphony of the Ukraine in Kiev. Also in 2010, he went on full scholarship to Boston University’s Tanglewood Institute, where he had masterclasses with Boaz Sharon. He has also been in masterclasses with pianists Christopher O’Riley and Yuri Kot.

At Eastman, Mr. Forstman studies under Professor Barry Snyder. By his commencement, he will have completed four years of Eastman’s rigorous academic music courses in three years. At UAB, he studied with Professor Yakov Kasman, having already studied privately with him for 6 years. In 2016, Mr. Forstman hopes to pursue a graduate degree in piano performance at an institution to be determined.

A Little Lunch Music 12/10: Auburn Music Club Singers

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On Thursday, December 10, A Little Lunch Music will present the Auburn Music Club Singers for a free concert in the auditorium. The group will perform a program of Christmas and other music spanning centuries. Aside from accompanying the Singers, pianist Elizabeth Rutland will play a piano four-hand piece with Mary Slaton, collaborate with flutist Janet Sanders, and perform solo. The performance is unsponsored. Contact Kate Cole at or 844-1675 to make a gift to support the efforts of these musicians. The café menu is available online.


The idea of a club for music in Auburn occurred to a group of women who gathered to play recorders. The first organizational meeting was in the home of Helga Wilmoth in 1979. Those who attended that first meeting included Dorothy Bennett, Patsy Johnson, Julia Norton, Marilyn Schaeffer, Carol Bramlett, Carol Schafer and others. At first, meetings were held in members’ homes or else in a church or a recital hall. Programs featured members of the club or the Auburn University music faculty. The stated objectives of the Auburn Music Club were “to encourage interest and participation in all areas of music and to promote music in the community, homes, and local schools.” At one of the first meetings, Carol Bramlett organized a group of singers to meet and perform for the club or for schools and nursing homes.


At age 50, while working as an administrative secretary for the City of Auburn, Phyllis Gauker earned a Master’s degree in choral conducting from Auburn University. Retiring in 2002, she began directing the Auburn Music Club Singers, and promised them that every year she would expose them to serious choral repertoire. This often means she has to transcribe music originally for mixed choir to accomodate the all-women group.

Growing up in Arlington, Virginia, Phyllis was surrounded by cultural activities in the nation’s capital. She graduated from William & Mary in 1962 as a voice major and taught high school choral music for 5 years at Highland Springs High School in Richmond, Virginia, and at Charlotte Amalie High School and Wayne Aspinal Junior High School in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands, where she lived for seven years. She and her husband lived in Spain for three years where she gave birth to her son. Her daughter was born in Guatemala, where they were missionaries for a Maryknoll priest after the 1976 earthquake. There, her husband and the priest were killed in a plane crash.

Phyllis sang with the Auburn Music Club Singers when it formed soon after the Club was founded in 1979. She very briefly directed it in 1983 before taking the job with the city. Phyllis has managed the Thrift Shop at St. Michael’s Catholic Church in Auburn, and directed its choir.


Pianist Elizabeth Rutland received her Bachelor of Music degree from Auburn University. She is active in the Alabama Music Teachers’ Association and maintains a private studio in her home. She recently retired as organist at Grace Methodist Church. She has been accompanist for the Music Club Singers for several years and has composed a number of musical works.


Flutist Janet H. Sanders, a native of Delaware, Ohio, received her Bachelor of Music and Bachelor of Arts (music education) degrees from Ohio Wesleyan University. She holds the Certificate with Honors from the Kodaly Musical Training Institute and earned the Masters of Music degree from New England Conservatory of Music. Ms. Sanders has taught music in Ohio, Massachusetts, Guam, Georgia, and Alabama. The widow of Librarian Emeritus Thomas R. Sanders, Janet is the mother of three grown children and an active member of the Baha’i Faith. Besides music, she loves reading, swimming, walking, playing with her dogs, and Auburn football and basketball.


Over the years, Mary Slaton has entertained with her extensive knowledge of popular music, and is known throughout the southeast as one of the region’s premier piano soloists. She is leader of the Mary Slaton Trio and coordinates the East Alabama Community Band in which she plays French horn. Among Memphis venues, Mary has performed at the Hilton and the Hyatt Regency. In Atlanta, she has played the Omni Hotel, the Hilton, the Atlanta Country Club and others. At home in the Auburn-Opelika area, she has been featured at the Terra Cotta, the Saugahatchee Country Club and the Marriott. Mary holds piano degrees from Memphis State University and from the University of Montevallo. She teaches privately and at Southern Union Community College.

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