The publication highlights individuals from across the state who have made a lasting impact on communities and individuals in Alabama and around the world. The 2014 calendar will mark the fourth year AT&T Alabama has led this initiative, which provides educators, parents and visitors a method of identifying African-American role models for youth, as it honors notable African-American achievers with ties to Alabama. Calendar honorees of 2014 represent a wide variety of fields, including education, community activism, civil rights, local government, law, medicine and music.
Panion was selected along with fellow living honorees Thom Gossom Jr., Lawrence J. Pijeaux Jr., Alexis M. Herman, Amelia Boynton Robinson and Richard Arrington Jr. Historical honorees include the late Benjamin Sterling Turner, the late Ralph David Abernathy, the late Herschell Lee Hamilton, the late John LeFlore, the late Arthur Shores and the late Dinah Washington.
“It is a great honor to be included among such illustrious company,” Panion said. “I’m truly grateful that my life’s work would be considered worthy of such recognition. I’m proud of my heritage as an Alabamian and an African-American.”
Honorees and/or family and friends will gather in Birmingham for the History Calendar unveiling ceremony planned for 6-7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 12, at the Alabama School of Fine Arts’ Dorothy Jemison Day Theater.
Panion teaches music theory and technology and is co-director of the Music Technology Program in the UAB Department of Music. He holds degrees in music education and music theory from Alabama A&M University and The Ohio State University, respectively. He is best known for his work as conductor and arranger for superstar Stevie Wonder, for whose performances and recordings Panion has led many of the world’s most notable orchestras, including the Royal Philharmonic, the Bolshoi Theater Orchestra, the Birmingham (England) Symphony, the Orchestra of Paris, the Melbourne (Australia) Symphony, the Rio de Janeiro Philharmonic, the Ra’anana Philharmonic, the Nice Symphony, the Gothenburg Symphony and the Boston Pops Orchestra. The two-CD set “Natural Wonder” features Panion conducting his arrangements of many of Stevie Wonder’s award-winning, chart-topping songs with Wonder and the Tokyo Philharmonic. Panion was inducted into the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame in 1995.
Partners on the History Calendar project are Fox 6 WBRC, Alabama State Department of Education, Alabama State University, Alabama Learning Exchange and the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.