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The history of Berry College is rooted in its musical culture and reflects an important part of Martha Berry's life and mission for her school. Located 60 miles north of Atlanta, Berry College began in 1902 as a small rural school, driven by Martha's desire to educate impoverished children and young adults in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. Through tireless fund-raising and dedication, Berry School grew from its humble beginning into an exemplary four-year liberal arts college. As Martha Berry gained widespread notoriety for her work in education, the music program performed for such guests as Henry Ford, Emily Vanderbilt, Theodore Roosevelt, and other notable leaders in business and politics. By 1948, the school's unofficial motto was "Everybody Sings at Berry." With continued success over the last 60 years, Berry's musical groups continue to gain recognition as they perform locally, nationally, and internationally.
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Mary Ellen Pethel
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Title: Berry grad publishes book about college's musical history Author: Staff Writer Publisher: Rome News-Tribune Date: 4/13/2010 When Stan Pethel, longtime faculty member and chair of fine arts at Berry College, decided to commission a book celebrating the 100th anniversary of music making at the college, he didn't have to look beyond his own daughter, Mary Ellen Pethel, to find a historian who would bring an insider's perspective to the project. 'Throughout my childhood, Berry music was an all-encompassing part of my life,' said Mary Ellen, an alumna of Rome High School and Berry College who earned her Ph.D. in history from Georgia State University in 2008. 'I remember trips to the Hoge Building and Ford Auditorium, concerts in the chapel, music tours throughout the region, and countless Mountain Day picnics. At the age of 12, my first paying job was cleaning instruments and working on a new music inventory for the department. I worked all summer, earning $2.50 an hour.' Drawing upon her own unique experiences, as well as a wealth of information provided by fellow Berry alumna Ouida Word Dickey, the Berry College Archives, noted faculty member Harry Musselwhite and other sources, Pethel brought her father's vision to life with 'Berry College: A Century of Making Music,' featuring more than 200 vintage photographs dating back to the early years of Berry's existence. Her father couldn't be more pleased with the book, the idea for which was first born when a fellow faculty member requested a brief history of the band program for a grant proposal he was writing. 'Music has been a part of the Berry experience since its founding in 1902,' he said. 'In the early days, it was primarily a recreational activity, but as time passed, instructors were hired and music making became a more formal venture. 'With the graduating class of 2010, there are now more than 500 total music graduates from Berry,' he added. 'In addition to music majors, there are hundreds of other students who have participated in musical ensembles and added their voices to the Berry musical tapestry.' Photos of many of these students can be found in the new book, along with faculty members who played a critical role in the program's development. Pethel's hope is that her book will ensure the prominence of music on the Berry campus for years to come. 'Martha Berry held music in high regard as an integral part of her educational mission,' the author stated. 'The book is a way for the school to showcase its musical heritage. It will help bring accolades and well-deserved attention.' 'Berry College, A Century of Making Music' is available for purchase through the music department and at the Berry College Book Store and Oak Hill Gift Shop. It may also be obtained at local bookstores, through online retailers and at www.arcadiapublishing.com. Pethel will sign copies of her book April 17 at the Barnes & Noble in Rome and May 15 at the Oak Hill Gift Shop. Both events begin at 4 p.m. Signed copies of the book will also be available at the Berry College Wind Ensemble's April 23 spring concert in Ford Auditorium and at Alumni Weekend, May 21-23. Call 706-236-2289 for more information about obtaining a copy.