SPIRIT OF STANLY 2024: Stanly County Concert Association still grooving after 75 years

Three citizens with an idea … and now we celebrate our 75th year of concerts.

The only break was with the pandemic which stopped everything and this is actually is the 76th anniversary of this amazing arts contribution to our community.

In 1947, Paul Fry, the high school choral director, Katherine Almond, the elementary music teacher, and Ralph Groves, a businessman who just happened to play the violin, met in the band room at Albemarle Senior High School to discuss bringing professional concerts to Stanly County. This was the beginning of the Stanly County Concert Association. We are indebted to these people, through contacting Columbia Artists in New York, brought James Wolfe to Albemarle on Jan. 16, 1948. He met with Chamber of Commerce members, Bill Page and Mrs. David Morrow to discuss this possibility.

Immediately, Mrs. Morrow filled membership kits, made phone calls and planned a banquet at the Albemarle Hotel where 80 volunteers official organized SCCA.

The original campaign brought 403 adults and 126 students, with dues for adults being $6 and students $3.

From this interest, hard work and enthusiasm about bringing professional artists to our area, we are still alive and well and continuing the original goal.

We began with all volunteer board members, by-laws were established and continue today. The Articles of Incorporation as a non-profit organization were
granted in 1983.

A version of The Ink Spots performed songs from the group’s popular hits from the 1930s and 1940s for the SCCA. (Photo by B.J. DRYE)

In 1954, Pfeiffer College, at that time, joined with us and we formed a joint relationship between community and higher education which strengthened the organization for 35 years, with Pfeiffer hosting many of the concerts and thousands of school students being brought to the gym for the shows.

In 1989, the Stanly County Agri-Civic Center was completed and became the permanent home for the concert association — and what a blessing. From that time, we have had season membership and individual tickets locally and to surrounding counties.

We joined the NC Presenters Consortium in 2001 to become a part of this organization which helps us to bring the best artists with educational outreach as one of our major goals.

Over the years, we have had the best — Ferrante & Teicher; the North Carolina, Greensboro and Charlotte symphonies; Mickey Rooney; music of Les Brown, Benny Goodman, Guy Lombardo, military bands, jazz, country, folk, blues, big bands and famous shows throughout the world. Our goal is to bring music of all interests, groups with local musicians, and make this available for students as a part of our educational goal.

As we celebrate 75 years, a debt of gratitude goes to the county, dedicated Board of Directors, local media sources, individuals and businesses who support SCCA beyond single tickets. Continued financial support enables us to keep the cost at reasonable prices so that our citizens of all ages can be a part of this opportunity.

Our website is www.stanlyconcert.com.

This article previously appeared in the Spirit of Stanly magazine.