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Volume 26, Number 7 — July 2019

MECCA adds Choirs for 2nd & 3rd graders

Angelia "Angee" Woody
Additional photos below »

September 16, 2007

The Mountain Empire Children's Choral Academy (MECCA) has added choirs for second- and third-graders in Bristol, Johnson City and Greeneville.

MECCA, which already boasts two of the premier choral groups for children and youth — the East Tennessee Children's Choir (ETCC) and the Highlands Youth Ensemble (HYE) — added the Choristers in order to extend its outreach in musical education and performance.

"Seven- and eight-year-olds enjoy singing, learning hand signs and how to clap out rhythms," said Beth Perkinson McCoy, artistic director of the MECCA. "The Choristers give us a chance to begin teaching young ones the
Kodaly method, which is used in the upper choirs, and to help impart a love of music at an early age."

The addition of the Choristers is just one of several changes the MECCA is experiencing this fall. After 12 years as director of the ETCC, McCoy stepped down from that position, and the board named Jane DeLoach Morison, director of the ETCC. Morison is an accomplished music teacher and pianist, who served as the MECCA accompanist for three years. She will continue as accompanist for the HYE.

Directing the three new Choristers will be Angelia "Angee" Woody and Valerie Pickard.

The tuition for choristers will be $150 for the year or $75 per term. Chorister choirs are open to second- and third-grade children; however, parents of mature first-graders may call or e-mail about participating. Fourth-graders who are not able to sing in the ETCC may participate in the Choristers, as well. Parents should call or e-mail for more information.

For general information about the MECCA program and schedule, visit or e-mail


Pickard grew up with musician parents and is no stranger to music or performing. She appeared in her first opera, "Amahl and the Night Visitors," at age 5, and by the time she finished high school, she had already performed in many plays, musicals and operas.

She received a bachelor of arts degree in music education from Western Kentucky University (WKU), where she earned her teaching certification. While at Western, she continued to perform in musicals and operas, including lead roles in "Carmen," "Fiddler on the Roof" and "Faust." In college, Pickard served as vice president of the Student Music Educator's National Conference and sang with the WKU European Chamber Singers, which toured Europe performing Mozart's "Requiem" conducted by Neville Mariner and accompanied by the Hungarian Philharmonic Orchestra.

For the past 20 years Pickard has taught private music lessons and directed numerous church youth and children's choirs. In 2002, she lived in Taejon, South Korea, where she directed a high school string orchestra at Taejon
Christian International School. In 2006, she directed the Vance Viking Voices and taught general music at Vance Middle School in Bristol, Tenn. She now serves as an adjudicator and Gold Cup chairman for the Bristol Virginia Music Festival. She lives in Bristol with her husband Simeon and their children Joshua, Jeremiah and Jonna.

*** The Bristol Choristers will rehearse at Woodlawn Baptist Church, 1400 Southside Ave., between Tennessee High School and Volunteer Parkway, Bristol, Tenn., from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., Thursdays. For more information about the Bristol Choristers, call (423) 968-4039 or e-mail


Woody, who will direct these Choristers and serve as accompanist for the ETCC, graduated with honors from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, with a bachelor of music degree with an emphasis in sacred music. She
received the Grace Moore Memorial Scholarship and a Roy Acuff Scholarship in choral music. A member of Sigma Alpha Iota, Chorister's Guild and the American Choral Directors Association, Woody studied with Dr. Dolly Hough
Davis and Dr. David Stutzenburger while at UT-Knoville.

Woody has served as organist/choirmaster at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Morristown, Tenn., director of music ministries at Westminster Presbyterian Church, Knoxville and at First United Methodist Church in Alcoa, Tenn. Most recently, she served as director of ministries with children and youth at Cherokee United Methodist Church, Johnson City. For 12 years, she served as a staff member with the Holston Conference of the United Methodist Church, directing Salt & Light, the conference's ambassador youth ensemble.

Woody and her family live in Greeneville and attend Asbury United Methodist Church, where her husband David serves as senior pastor. She co-owns The Main Event, an event planning business.

*** The Johnson City Choristers will rehearse at Cherokee United Methodist Church, 2615 S. Roan St., across from Tipton-Haynes Historic Site, Johnson City, from 4 to 5 p.m., Tuesdays.

*** The Greeneville Choristers will rehearse at Asbury United Methodist Church, 201 S. Main St., corner of Summer and Main streets, Greeneville, from 4 to 5 p.m., Thursdays.

For more information about the Greeneville Choristers or the Johnson City Choristers, call (423) 791-2859 or e-mail

Valerie Pickard