Snead State Community College begins its 2022-2023 academic year with a new director for one of the student music ensembles.
Gina Garmon of Rainbow City will step in as Director for the College Street Singers in time to celebrate Snead State’s 125th Anniversary.
“I am so excited to begin my time here at Snead,” Mrs. Garmon said.
She comes to the College with 29 years teaching experience, all with the Gadsden City System. After graduation from Jacksonville State University, she was hired as a general music teacher and middle school choral director for Gadsden City Schools. The final 15 years of her career with GCS were spent serving as the Choral Director at Gadsden City High School, where she conducted two choirs and started a show choir. She retired at the end of the school year last year.
“My choirs performed at many civic events, Carnegie Hall, Disney World, Disneyland, and in Hawaii for the 75th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor,” she said.
Mrs. Garmon earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Education with a concentration in Vocal/Choral Music from Jacksonville State University. Her major instrument is the piano, and while she was at JSU, she served as the accompanist for the JSU Show Choir.
Prior to applying for the College Street Singer Director position, Mrs. Garmon was familiar with the ensemble and the program’s reputation.
“I discovered that I knew many people who had been a part of the group over the years. The reputation was one of excellence, which is what drew me to the position,” she said.
She also plans to be a part of the College’s tradition of providing excellent education.
“My main role would be that of an educator. In order to perform well, students must possess a level of basic music knowledge and correct vocal technique, and I want to work with them to improve their skills. I also would like to be a resource for any choir directors or music teachers in the area. I want to grow those relationships to help build our program for the future,” she said. “Finally, I want to be available to offer entertainment for the City of Boaz and surrounding areas.”
Building relationships with students, the college and the community is one of Mrs. Garmon’s top goals for her first year as Director. She wants to see the College Street Singers play a large role in recruiting other students to the Fine Arts Department as much as to the ensemble itself. She has already started planning the repertoire for the group’s performances this year.
“We are starting off the Fall Semester with pop music, ranging from some from the 1970s all the way up to music that is popular today. We also plan to have a religious program set in order to sing at churches and, of course, holiday music for the upcoming Christmas season. I would love to do some joint performances with the Jazz Band and perhaps some music from the big band era. My goal is to also get the group into as many schools as we can,” she said.
The College Street Singers began in 1974, when the Chairman of the Music Department, the late Glenn Maze, attended a summer conference that featured an ensemble named Re-generation directed by Derrick Johnson, who is known for his work with Disney. Mr. Maze returned to Boaz and met with the late Rebecca Lancaster, a vocal instructor at the College at that time, about the idea of organizing a similar group. By the fall, ten singers and a sound technician had been enlisted, and the Freedom Singers were formed. The group took the name Freedom Singers in anticipation of the country’s bicentennial Celebration. During the first year of their existence, the Freedom Singers performed 50 times and set a precedence of excellence and pride.
In 1977, the group changed their format from patriotic music to sacred and variety entertainment. They also changed their name to the College Street Singers after the major street running through the Snead State campus. They continued to perform in schools, churches, and civic organizations and events and averaged 30-40 performances per year. In 1990, the group appeared at Carnegie Hall with the Manhattan Symphony Orchestra.
“I am excited to be a part of this tradition. I want to especially thank (Fine Arts Division Director) Dr. Barbara Hudson for welcoming me into the music family and for being so kind and gracious in assisting me.”
Mrs. Garmon has been married to Richard Garmon for 24 years, and the couple has four children – Terra, who is married to Zach Russell, lives in Trussville, and has two children, Sarah, 3, and Callum, 2; Bayleigh, a senior at Samford University majoring in Business Marketing with a concentration in Data Analytics; Bethany, a sophomore at Samford University majoring in Family and Child Development with a minor in music, which will allow her to pursue a graduate degree in Music Therapy; and Braden, a freshman at Auburn University majoring in Pre-Physical Therapy.
The Garmons live in Rainbow City with their cat Willow and dog Stormy. They are active members of Meadowbrook Baptist Church, where they serve in the music ministry. Mrs. Garmon is the founding director of the Gadsden Youth Chorus, a community youth choir for Etowah and surrounding counties.