This will be a recurring column which will highlight LJS Alumni stories in the LJS Alumni E-news. Since this is the first edition, we thought we would start at the beginning with an article from Anne Peacock Coltrane and Genie Peacock Leonard who were both members of the very first Lake Junaluska Singers in the summer of 1967.
Here is how it all began for Anne and Genie Peacock. Genie was the first to hear that Glenn Draper was forming a new singing group at Lake Junaluska. Dr. Richard Brewer, Genie's choral director at Pfeiffer College, told her that he had received an audition notice from his friend, Glenn Draper, about a new singing group he was forming. It would be known as the Lake Junaluska Singers, and he thought that Genie should audition. Genie immediately called her sister, Anne, and they set up an audition for the two of them.
The auditions were held during the winter at Lake Junaluska in the unheated Assembly Office. Frank Calhoun, who had been a member of the Junaluska Quartet, sat in on the auditions with Glenn. Besides being freezing, it was a normal audition with sight singing, ear testing, vocalizing, and solos. Glenn had known Genie and Anne since they were 10 and 12 years old, respectively. In fact, the girls had sung in Lounelle's children's choir, and had later joined the quartet and a few other singers in June of 1966 to record the first album put out by Glenn at Lake Junaluska.
Glenn also knew that Genie and Annie frequently sang duets together, so he asked them to sing a duet as part of their audition. They sang "Virgin Mary Had a Little Baby," which Glenn later had them record in June of 1967 to include on the Junaluska Singers' second album, "Kum ba ya." It was several months before Glenn gave the girls the great news that he wanted them to be part of the very first Lake Junaluska Singers during the summer of 1967. In fact, they hadn't heard from him in so long that they had already accepted other jobs for the summer, but they quickly cancelled those jobs in order to spend the summer singing with Glenn at Lake Junaluska.
The members of that first Lake Junaluska Singers group are listed in an article entitled "More about the Summer Staff" in volume 31, number 3, of the "Assembly Daily"* dated June 14, 1967. Quote:
Glenn Draper returns for the 13th summer as director of music and brings as staff members Mrs. Mary Neil Rogers, Lake Junaluska, (2nd season) as accompanist, and as singers, Mr. and Mrs. Clint Nichols of New York City, Mr. Frank Calhoun, Augusta Ga., Misses Genie and Anne Peacock, Charlotte, Miss Lynn Duke, Bartow Fla., Miss Joan Storr, Miami, and Mr. Charles Middleton, Sanford, Fla."
(Lounelle also sang with us that summer, as did Glenn, who usually got us started and then jumped back to join us.)
These singers need to be recognized and given special thanks because if it were not for their popularity and success that summer of 1967, there would be no Lake Junaluska Singers today.
*The "Assembly Daily" was a news letter that was published daily and delivered to all the residences and hotels on the Lake. Copies of the "Assembly Daily," summer programs, bulletins, albums, pictures and other LJS memorabilia can found in the South Eastern Jurisdictional Heritage Center located on the lower level of the Harrell Center at Lake Junaluska. The SEJ Heritage Center also maintains a Lake Junaluska Singer Alumni Display. Ashley Calhoun, brother of LJS alumnus Frank Calhoun, is now working in the SEJ Heritage Center and is a great contact for LJS alumni. He would love to receive LJS Alumni memorabilia.