Lions sponsor 27th Bland music contest Feb. 13

NOTE: This event has been rescheduled due to snow to Sunday, Feb. 21 at 2 p.m.

The public is invited to spend the afternoon on Saturday, Feb. 13, at the Theatre at Washington, enjoying vocal and instrumental music performed by Rappahannock County students. he annual event is sponsored by the Rappahannock Lions Club as part of the statewide Lions of Virginia Bland Music Scholarship contests. Rappahannock student winners receive cash awards contributed by the local Lions. The free event starts at 2. Refreshments and entertainment will be provided during the short intermission.

Kelsa Settle, left, and Heidi Rechin were the winners in the vocal and instrumental categories, respectively, at last year’s contest.

The Lions of Virginia in 1948 established the Bland Music Scholarship Program as a living memorial to James A. “Jimmy” Bland (1854-1911). A composer of many songs known as American folk music, Bland wrote “Carry Me Back to Ole Virginny,” which became the state song in 1940. Being an African American in the late 180’s limited Bland’s opportunities until he was heard by John Ford, owner of Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C.; he thus started his professional performance career. Known as ‟the world’s greatest minstrel man,” Bland went on to sing and play his banjo for President Grover Cleveland, Gen. Robert E. Lee and Queen Victoria at Buckingham Palace.

To celebrate Black History Month each February the Lions of Virginia promote zone contests followed by region and district contests. Local Lions clubs conduct the contests throughout the state with winners in vocal and instrumental categories at each level progressing to the state contest in May. Rappahannock students over the past 26 years have advanced to the district contest held in Alexandria.

Rappahannock Lions, private music teachers and the schools’ music teachers begin soliciting prospective contestants at the beginning of the school year. By the end of January, students decide to compete and the program is established for the contest. It takes the entire Lions Club to produce the event, an activity that the Lions take pride in doing for the benefit of the students and the community.
For more details, contact Bob Lander (540-987-8504 or kplander@aol.com).

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