Singer/songwriter Stella Parton appears Sept. 22 for public ‘master class’ at Brenau University

Sep 19, 2011
Rudi Kiefer

Stella PartonSinger, songwriter, actor and author Stella Parton will participate in an open-to-the-public “master class” at Brenau University’s John S. Burd Center for the Performing Arts starting at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 22. Parton, a member of one of the iconic families of country music, also will sign copies of her new book, “Tell It Sister, Tell It.” 

There is no admission charge for the interactive, discussion-format program, which will be held in the Burd Center’s Hosch Theatre at 429 Academy St. in Gainesville.spacer

Dr. Barbara Steinhaus, chair of Brenau’s Department of Music, said that similar appearances normally are reserved for Brenau students, but the university decided to open the class to the public because Parton’s compelling life story and career experience will have appeal to a much broader audience. 

Parton, whose older sister is Dolly Parton, has appeared in acting roles on television, in movies, and Broadway musical touring companies in addition to her musical performances, recordings and productions. She recently published “Tell It Sister, Tell It,” a book about “memories, music and miracles” and the ways her faith has sustained her through personal setbacks and trauma. She also has released a companion CD of original songs written at different stages in her life.

“I wrote the book with the hope of empowering other women,” said Parton, an advocate and fund-raiser for programs to combat domestic violence and protect abused women. “No matter how far back in the race you may be, just keep marching to your own beat. You’ll get where you’re going right on time through faith, prayer and perseverance.”

The “master class” program exposes students to intensive, in-person, interactive learning experiences with professionals from diverse walks of life. Steinhaus and Fred Lloyd, associate professor of theater who has worked in film, television and Broadway productions, will moderate Parton’s conversational presentation.“I think Ms. Parton’s life and career experience will resonate extremely well with Brenau students because many of them grew up in similar backgrounds in the South,” Steinhaus said. “She is a creative entrepreneur who set a course for her life and never let a rock in her way slow her down. When she encounters obstacles, she finds her way around them, and her focus always seems to have been on the inner self. I was particularly captivated by an idea she expressed from Mother Teresa, that the good feeling that you have inside yourself trumps anything that a beautician can do.”

Steinhaus, a classically trained lyric soprano, also believes students should be exposed to a wide variety of artistic expression. “Stella Parton has been to the top and seen it not only through her eyes but through her sister Dolly’s eyes as well,” said Bruce Burch, a songwriter and founder of the John Jarrard Festival and Foundation. “She possesses a uniquely wise viewpoint that will speak volumes to students at Brenau and others who hear her presentation.”

Parton also will perform on Saturday night at the 10th annual John Jarrard Concert, which starts at 6 p.m. on the Brenau lawn. Copies of her book and album will be available for purchase at the book-signing reception following her master class. Brenau Barnes & Noble Bookstore also will have copies of the book for sale at the Friday and Saturday night concert performances. Proceeds from the sales will benefit domestic violence programs.