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Acuff Circle announces winners for 2016 Ovation Awards

           CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – A high school choral director, who also is a composer. A music academy born out of a challenge to a church congregation to “live a better story.” And, a dental practice making an effort to share art appreciation with everyone.

           CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – A high school choral director, who also is a composer. A music academy born out of a challenge to a church congregation to “live a better story.” And, a dental practice making an effort to share art appreciation with everyone.

            These are among this year's eight recipients of the Ovation Award, given by the Acuff Circle of Excellence in recognition of outstanding contributions to the arts in the Clarksville-Montgomery County community.

            The annual ceremony will be 2-3:30 p.m. on Sunday, March 6, at the Customs House Museum and Cultural Center. The public is invited to attend the free ceremony and a reception that follows.

            The Acuff Circle of Excellence, a non-profit organization affiliated with the Austin Peay Foundation, serves as a patron society of the APSU Center of Excellence for the Creative Arts. Its purpose is to advance the importance of arts and culture at Austin Peay and in the community.

            Those being recognized were chosen from nominations submitted by the public. There were an unprecedented number of nominations in every category this year.

            Receiving the Individual Artist award is Debbie Wilson, director for the Northeast High School choirs for the past 23 years. Her choirs have performed at hundreds of events supporting many community organizations. She also served as music director/arranger for the Hiroshima's Boys Choir tour in Middle Tennessee, in conjunction with Vanderbilt's Symposium 2000; and she is music festival co-director for a Gulf Shores, Alabama, performance showcase.

            Her score for a musical melodrama has been published, she's worked for Holland America Cruise Line as music director and pianist, and she has performed in venues from New York City to Philadelphia to South Florida.

            The Individual Business Award will be given to Richview Family Dentistry. Dr. Bill Wall, a Clarksville native, opened his dental practice in 1984. In the last 31 years, he has built not only a large practice, but an equally large and impressive art collection, displayed at his office. The collection includes pieces by renowned regional and local artists.

            He and his wife, Anne, have collected, and continue to collect, the work from various events through the years, including the Custom House Museum's annual Flying High and the Roxy Theatre's annual dinner and art fundraiser gala. They also are supporters of the Downtown Artists Co-op.

            The Madison Street Music and Arts Academy will receive the Community Award. When Madison Street United Methodist Church members were challenged to “live a better story,” Academy founder Jared Wilson was inspired to create a place where quality music instruction would be available to students of all ages regardless of their socio-economic status.

            Wilson reached out to fellow musicians, instructors and congregation members who together raised money, put together a schedule and then promoted the Academy in the community. In just four years, the academy has gone from serving 50 students to more than 200, many of whom receive lessons at a reduced rate of just 50 cents a lesson. Instruments and learning materials are loaned to students at no additional expense.

            Winners in the Young Artist categories, all high school seniors, are Jacob Capps, Montgomery Central High School, Visual Arts; Jonathan Weidner, Rossview, Theatre; Brandon Crite, West Creek, Instrumental Music; and Mercedes Johnson, Northeast, Vocal Performance.

            This year, the recipient of the prestigious George Mabry Ovation Award is being kept secret until the announcement at the ceremony. Chosen by the Acuff Circle board, it recognizes a living Tennessean who has made a significant impact on arts and culture in Montgomery County through philanthropy, leadership or direct involvement, or a Tennessee individual who has advanced arts and culture through innovative work in creating or supporting the arts in Montgomery County.

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