School of Music

Alumni News, 1980-1989


Robin Bonner (BS in music education and piano, ’80): Robin taught elementary classroom music, private piano, and high school choir at Open Door Christian School in Tuscaloosa for 22 years. She is currently the pianist at Piney Grove Baptist Church in Tuscaloosa, where her husband, Larry, is the pastor. She also enjoys singing solos and praise/worship music. They have two children: Laure, who is serving in the US Air Force, stationed at Mildenhall, England, and Barry, who is a music major at Shelton State.

Rhonda Brown Dennison (BS in music education, ’80): Since graduating from the University, Rhonda has taught elementary school music in Atlanta, GA for five years and now in Huntsville City Schools for almost 20 years. She studied piano with Nancy Wright at UA and still thinks of what a great teacher she was! You may remember her as the girl who always came into convocation soaking wet because my swimming class was right before. She is married to Frank Dennison and they have two sons, ages 15 and 17. Her oldest is probably headed to UA.


Diane Cobern-Kohout (BS ’81): Diane taught piano for several years before earning a BSN in Nursing from Troy State University. Currently, she is working full time and is working on her MSN in Nursing. She has three children, one of whom is also pursuing a BSN in Nursing.

Rebecca Henley Parris (BS in social work, ’82): Rebecca works as a social worker with the Health Services Center in Anniston. She is an active member of Southside United Methodist Church in Gadsden where she often has the opportunity to play the flute.


Randy “Bert” Fowler (BS ’78 and MA in music education ’82): Bert is a composer/arranger in the Muscle Shoals area and has served as minister of music at First Baptist Church of Russellville since 1993. He didn’t realize what a great music program UA had until he did graduate work in Ft. Worth, TX. and passed all the placement tests with flying colors. (Thanks, Dr. Prentice and Dr. Goosen!) He is married to Carole and they have two children, both UA grads.


Susan Arther Jarrett (BS in music education, ’83): Susan has been a national music sales representative for LifeWay Christian Resources in Nashville, TN for 22 years. She has been married to Jimmy Jarrett for 20 years and resides in Murfreesboro, TN. They have one 4-legged, furry child: their 8-yr-old black lab, Legend.

Laura Grantier Snavely (BM ’93): Laura was named Assistant Principal Clarinet with the United States Navy Band, Washington, D.C. in January 2001.

Diane Farhat Snodgrass (MM ’83): Diane earned a DMA in piano from the University of Southern California. She teaches at Mesa College and recently appeared as a soloist with the San Diego Symphony Orchestra.


Lisa Williams Belk (BM in piano performance, ’82; MM in piano performance, ’84): Lisa moved to Huntsville in 1988. In 1991 she married Randall Belk. They have one daughter who was born in 1994. Lisa has remained active in many professional music organizations, and in 2004 received permanent certification from MTNA. She teaches piano in her home studio and is very active in the music ministry of First Baptist Church, Huntsville.

Melissa Allford Meman (BM ’82, MM ’84): Melissa has been in the Washington, D.C., area for 15 years. She performs regularly with the Washington Opera Chorus, the Washington Concert Opera Chorus, and other area ensembles. She is married to jazz saxophonist Jesse Meman, and they have a young son, Benjamin.

Karen Smith (BME and BM in performance, ’84): Karen lives in Sherman Oaks, CA and works as a music librarian in the film music industry. She works for the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Los Angeles Opera, among others, and maintains the personal concert libraries for John Williams, Lalo Schifrin, David Benoit, and Lee Holdridge. She currently works at Disney in Burbank. She has a flute choir that is in the process of recording its second CD, as well as two solo flute and piano CD’s.


David Allen Grady (BS ’95): David received a Master of Divinity degree from Emory University in 1999. He married Susan Allen of Atlanta in September, 2001. Now he is a Probationary Elder in the United Methodist Church and works as Associate Pastor at Mt. Bethel United Methodist Church in Marietta, GA.

Julie Griffin Guier (BS in music education, ’85): Julie is happily married to Bill Guier. They have two daughters and live near Birmingham. Julie works as a legal secretary for Christian & Small LLP. She enjoys occasional performance opportunities in local churches and weddings, both as a substitute choir member and instrumental soloist.

Tony Roberson (BA piano performance, ’85): Tony is a professor at the UAB School of Nursing, specializing in children and adolescent psychiatric mental health issues. He completed a Ph.D. in nursing at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and his past faculty appointments were at UNC-Chapel Hill and Duke University. He continues to study piano and lives in Birmingham, AL.

Theo Vernon (BM in music education and performance, ’85): Theo just started his 25th year of teaching high school band at Grissom High School in Huntsville, AL. He writes, “I have had many students over the years attend the University and participate in the music department and the Million Dollar Band!  It makes me very proud. Roll Tide!”

Neal Webb (BM ’85): Neal also earned a master’s degree at Cincinnati and has worked regularly at Disney World and EPCOT. He has performed with orchestras and bands in Florida, has appeared in print ads and TV commercials, and tours nationally with the Jack Daniel’s Silver Cornet Band.


Stanley Curtis (BM ’86): Stanley has been a member of the U.S. Navy Band in Washington, D.C. for the past 4 years (along with wife, Melissa Bishop, who plays clarinet in the Navy Band). He also plays Baroque trumpet and cornetto throughout the country with such groups as Apollo’s Fire, Milwaukee Baroque, the Washington Bach Consort, the Violins of LaFayette, the Washington Cornett and Sackbutt Ensemble, and the Orchestra of the 17th Century.

David Gill (BS ’86): David is married to Joann Stephens Gill (’78) and has 8 kids. The oldest is in her 2nd year at UA (She is in the colorguard!), and his latest is 10 months old. (She will be at UA in 2024).

Arietha Lockhart (BS ’82 and MA in music education, ’86):Arietha resides in Decatur, Georgia and is an elementary music specialist. She is a member of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus and Chamber Chorus and has been recognized for solo vocal achievements; She also won a debut recital in Weill Hall of Carnegie Hall. Arietha was accompanied by Sheryl H. Cohen on “There Biblical Songs” by Curtis Bryant for Soprano and Flute. She is an active performer and recitalist and a member of Mu Phi Epsilon International Music Fraternity. Webpages: Southern Artistry and Classical Singer.

James McKenzie (BS ’80, MA ’86): After 20 years as band director at various high schools, James is now a systems analyst for the Southern Company in Birmingham and a technical consultant for db Technology Internet Services in Tuscaloosa. He and wife Rebecca have two children, James III (who studies trombone with Professor Dan Drill) and Andrew.

Melinda Ashworth Parrish (BM in piano performance, ’86): Melinda lives in Nashville, TN with her husband, Everette, and son, Russell. She works as an accompanist at the Blair School of Music, Vanderbilt University and teaches piano at David Lipscomb Academy of Music. She says that it’s still exciting to visit the UA campus for a piano lesson or a football game!


Ginny McLean Hughes (BS in education, ’87): Ginny has  been teaching in the Jefferson County School System for 17 years. She has taught choir, music appreciation and guitar at Hewitt-Trussville Junior High School for 13 years and is currently the choral director at Gardendale High School. She also sings in the adult choir and coordinates childrens’ choirs at Gardendale-Mt. Vernon United Methodist Church. She is married to Billy Hughes (also a teacher) and they have a daughter, Lauren. They live in Fultondale, Alabama.


David Curren (MME ’88): David has been band director of the middle school and high school at Springville High School in St. Clair County for the past 15 years. He is married and has a son who will graduate from high school next year.

Chris Griffin (BA ’88): is pursuing a master’s degree in vocal performance at the University of Montevallo. He is music director and organist for the Lutheran Church of Vestavia Hills in Birmingham and continues to perform throughout the state, alternately as a tenor and as a jazz pianist.

Stephen Hiramoto (BS ’88): After graduating from UA, Stephen attended Louisiana State University and graduated with the Master of Music in oboe performance in 1990. His education continued at the University of North Texas where he held the teaching fellowship in oboe and performed in the Teaching Fellow Wind Quintet. These studies culminated in the Doctor of Musical Arts in Oboe Performance in 1996. Since 1997 Stephen has owned and operated North Texas Oboe Reeds and Cane and resides in Dallas and New Orleans.

Valerie Martin (MM ’88, DMA ’94): Valerie is Associate Professor and Head of the Music Department at Susquehanna University, a private, liberal arts college of 1,800 students in central Pennsylvania. She continues to serve as the Director of Bands at SU, a position she has held since 1994. In 1998 she married Kevin Henry, a professional trombonist and band director.

Patricia Massey Smathers (BM ’88):Patricia earned her master’s in Special Ed in 1998 from the State University of West Georgia; in May 2001, she completed an Ed.S. in Interrelated Special Education from the same school.=

Katherine White (BM ’88): Katherine is the principal clarinetist with the Atlanta Ballet Orchestra and the Gwinnett Philharmonic in Atlanta, GA. She performs frequently with the Atlanta Symphony as well as the Alabama Symphony and just about anywhere else in driving range!


Melony Kirkley Colburn (BM ’89): Melony is the director/teacher of Kindermusik of Tuscaloosa and works part-time as a Pampered Chef consultant. She and husband Rob have a young son, Jackson.

Patrick Baran (BS and EdD ’89): Patrick is the orchestral director and performing arts department head at John Quincy Adams Middle School. He performs regularly with the Tampa Bay Mostly Pops, Concord Chamber Players, and Bay Baroque.

Eric Daffron (BA in English and French, music minor ’89): Eric is not only an associate professor of English at Mississippi University for Women but also the organist and choir director at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Columbus, MS.

Holly Jones (BS ’89): Holly currently working as a programmer and web developer in Phoenix, AZ.

Alan Mattingly (BM ’89): Alan is horn professor at Western Carolina University; see his WCU web page. In summer 2000, Alan married hornist Jacqueline Ekstrand, who is on the faculty of the University of North Carolina at Asheville.

Robbie Bowie Ooten (BM in music therapy 1989):Robbie is married with two children: Morgan, 13 and Maggie, 10. She works at Trinity Chapel Academy as a music teacher/orchestra director and also teaches private violin lessons. She has a string quartet, “Melodies & Memories,” that plays in and around Atlanta, GA.

Bryan Smith (BS music education, ’89): Bryan was named Oneonta Elementary School Teacher of the Year for ‘05-’06.