The Jacksonville State University music department provides a training ground for music students as well as a variety of concerts for the public, free for the most part.

On Tuesday, JSU will present its music faculty in a showcase recital. “This is an annual event that shows what we have to offer,” said Teresa Stricklin, voice instructor at JSU. “It also gives us a chance to do what we as instructors love — performing.”

The faculty recital will be Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. in Mason Hall’s Performance Center.

The purpose for the evening, Stricklin said, is to raise money for the Legacy Scholarship, which is given to music majors with a minimum GPA of 3.0 who have family members who are JSU graduates.

A reception will precede the recital from 5-7 p.m. at the home of JSU President John M. Beehler and First Lady Pamela Beehler. Anyone interested in making a donation to the scholarship fund is welcome to come to the reception.

There is a composer on the faculty staff, according to Stricklin. James Woodward has written a duo-artist scene for a clarinetist (Mark Brandon) and actor (Nathan Wight). “People Watching in an Elevator” depicts a bellhop who observes people on each floor, from the busy activity on the first floor, to the toddler demanding to go to the pool and finally to a night of rest.

Woodward also arranged the melody for a Nigerian folk song that Eryn Oft will play on the bassoon to Andrew Lynge’s  accompaniment on the djembe, a large African drum.

Also in the program:

Two pianists have chosen to play etudes by Frederic Chopin. Wendy Freeland will play Etude in C Minor, Opus 25, No. 12, and Rachel Park will perform Etude in C Minor, Opus 10, No. 12. Chopin is known for making the piano a specialty with his color effects, dynamics and an elegance that no one before him had achieved. His etudes are exercises for developing piano technique, but are nonetheless enchanting, according to texts.

Fantasy for Flute and Piano by Georges Hue, played by Jeremy Benson on flute and Rachel Park on piano.  

Johann Strauss II, who wrote “The Blue Danube” waltz, is also the composer of this program’s “How Engaging, How Capricious” (“The Clock Duet” from “Die Fledermaus”). It will be performed by Estefania Wilcox, soprano, Eric Wilcox, tenor, and Gail Steward, piano.

Alabama Room is a treasure trove of local history

In the Alabama Room of the Public Library of Anniston-Calhoun County, history ceases to be a mystery for patrons in most cases, due to an experienced staff and multiple resources.

This room on the library’s second floor contains historical and genealogical materials pertaining to Anniston, the surrounding counties and the southeastern United States.

Its collection currently includes more than 15,000 printed volumes, 10,000 reels of microfilm, numerous bound volumes of periodicals, assorted newspaper and magazine clippings of places and events in Alabama, family files and manuscript materials.

This world of information is visually introduced by a painting you can’t help but see. It depicts Anniston in 1882 as a foundry town, showing the Anniston Manufacturing Company on the far right and the workers’ houses in the center. The large painting near the room’s entrance, commissioned by Samuel Noble, is by a Mr. Shearer, seen then from Crowan Cottage looking down the hill.

According to Tom Mullins, Alabama Room librarian, most of the inquiries from visitors involve genealogy, the Russell Brothers photos, Fort McClellan, Camp McClellan and Camp Shipp, which was located in Anniston.

People will often consult city directories to find out the names and occupations of former occupants in their home. The directory holdings are from 1889 to 2015 at this time.

There are records of marriages, which answer an oft-asked question when people are completing an ancestry search: What was the maiden name of the bride?

Also, the Heritage Book Series is on family history, and there are some files on Calhoun County civic clubs.

People wanting to join lineage societies — mainly those focusing on the American Revolution and the Civil War — come here to study veteran records.

Those who lack a birth certificate can usually find proof of date of birth in school or census records.

Copies of funeral arrangements, contributed by families of the deceased, show dates of birth and death, plus names of parents and survivors.

History research and genealogy is a never-ending exploration, staff members say. There’s always one more fact or link to find. Sometimes the information can be inspiring, sometimes surprisingly disappointing.

Mullins, who will celebrate 25 years next month of Alabama Room service, finds it rewarding when he can help visitors from all over the United States find a factual connection with a past family member.

Perhaps he feels especially at home with so much local history, due to another discovery: He is the great nephew of Samuel Russell of the Russell Brothers photos.

Hervey Folsom writes about the local arts scene every Sunday. Contact her at