Blackman gets group ready
By By LYDIA GRIMES Feature Reporter
As the song goes, "it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas." It's also beginning to sound a lot like Christmas. You hear music of the season everywhere.
Greg Blackman, choral director of T.R. Miller High School and Brewton Middle School, has his hands full getting the groups ready for their Christmas program next week. The middle school group will sing its production of "A Christmas Carol" next Monday night at T.R. Miller Auditorium and the high school will present a program of Christmas music.
It's not unusual to hear sounds of Christmas in and around the schools as the students get ready for one of their most important public appearances of the year. They also participated in the Downtown Christmas by performing at the Ritz.
Throughout the year the choral group participates in many activities including all-state auditions for the big event coming up in March.
Blackman serves at the District VII Chairman of the Alabama Vocal Association which covers 10-county area including Escambia, Baldwin and Mobile counties. This means that he works with all the counties involved. He organizes events that take place and schedules tryouts that are usually held at local churches because of the availability of pianos and organs.
They also take trips to various places and are planning a trip to Atlanta in the near future to attend a festival. In the springtime, they have what Blackman calls "school tour" where all members of the choral group go to each school and give a performance. They go to nursing homes and give various other live performances.
They held all-state auditions here in Brewton at First Baptist Church and First Presbyterian Church Nov. 18, with some 300 singers participating. Five judges were brought in to decide who would be taking part in the All-State Choral Festival, which will be held in March of 2005. Students from T.R. Miller High School are George Arauz, Kelly Stallworth, Antonio Gomez, Kenny Ward, A.J. Daugherty, Stephen Neal, David Mathieu, David Cooper, Matthew Cooper, Sarah Stallworth, Amy Luker and Vivian Muth. Brewton Middle School singers are Jessica Freeman, Miranda Andrews and Emily Isacson.
Blackman was born in Milton, Fla., and attended school in Jay, Fla., graduating in 1990. He is the youngest of three boys. His father was a chemist in Chumuckla and his mother a school bus driver for schools in Jay.
He did take music for a short time when the minister's wife, Phoebe Hill, from First Baptist Church taught him. When she moved away, he learned on his own. He learned to play piano and organ and became the pianist for Mt. Carmel Methodist Church when he was in the sixth grade. When he was in the ninth grade, he got interested in the choral group at Jay High School. They needed an accompanist and he auditioned and got the job. He found that he was interested in singing, also. He pursued music when he attended the University of West Florida. He got a degree in music with an emphasis on voice.
He was married in his senior year to Ginger Burlison who was from Pensacola. After graduation he worked some at Jay First Baptist and St. Andrews Methodist Church in Pensacola before he got a job with Christ United Methodist Church in Milton as music and youth minister. He worked in Jay for about a year before an opening became available at Brewton Middle School in 1991.
He and his wife built a home near Jay and attend Mt. Carmel Methodist Church where he is still the pianist and has a small children's choir. Both he and his wife commute to Brewton to work. She teaches third grade at W.S. Neal.
He enjoys working outside and this is a time of the year that is near and dear to his heart. He can be compared to Chevy Chase in the movie "A Christmas vacation" as he decorates the house, both inside and outside, for the holiday season.