A Musical Legacy

Music and the arts always played a central role in the lives of Bill and Joan Edmonds. Thanks to their generosity and support of the Alys Stephens Center, their love of the arts will continue to enrich lives in central Alabama for years to come.

Sweet sounds always filled the Edmonds household. “Growing up, typical Saturday afternoons included listening to live Texaco broadcasts from the Metropolitan Opera,” recalls Bryson Edmonds. His parents, Bill and Joan Edmonds, “were both lifelong lovers of the arts,” he says. “Classical music and the opera were an important part of our daily lives.”

This musical heritage was a family tradition. “My father had a beautiful bass voice,” Bryson Edmonds says. Bill Edmonds grew up singing at Birmingham’s Independent Presbyterian Church, where his father was the founding pastor; he was a lifelong member and served for many years as an elder. At the Virginia Military Institute, where he earned a degree in engineering, Bill Edmonds was president of the Glee Club. After returning to Birmingham, he became Orchestra, serving as chairman of the board and president of the Symphony Association. When UAB’s Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center, the orchestra’s new home, opened in 1996, Bill and Joan Edmonds became strong contributors and active members of the Alys Stephens Center board.

Expanding the Reach of the Arts

In 2000, the Edmonds family ensured that its support for the arts in Birmingham would continue as part of a deferred gift from a Charitable Remainder Unitrust. (The Edmonds trust also benefited the UAB School of Engineering and the Griffith R. Harsh III, M.D., Endowed Chair in Neurosurgery.) Funds from the Edmonds trust were placed in the Alys Stephens Center endowment, which helps sustain free programs that serve the community. These include school-based programs to enhance learning; events and performances that build community; as well as programs providing art interactions for patients and families that transform the healing environment at UAB, Children’s of Alabama, and assisted living facilities, among other locations.

These initiatives include the Alys Stephens Center’s Meet the Artist program, which welcomes thousands of K-1 students to enjoy free live performances and engage in question-and-answer sessions with the artists. Many schools in the Birmingham area, as well as surrounding counties, lack funding to provide K-12 students with exposure to the arts, making programs like this vital for young learners.

Music and the arts always played a central role in the lives of Bill and Joan Edmonds. Thanks to their generosity, their love of the arts will continue to enrich lives in central Alabama for years to come.

“Generous contributions to the Alys Stephens Center, like those of the Edmonds family, directly impact the lives of students by helping to remove any barriers to participation, including transportation,” says Lili Anderson, senior director of development for the Alys Stephens Center. “The experiences the students gain from learning through the arts help level the playing field with their peers from well-resourced communities.”

Music and the arts always played a central role in the lives of Bill and Joan Edmonds. Thanks to their generosity, their love of the arts will continue to enrich lives in central Alabama for years to come. 

Learn more about supporting the arts through the Alys Stephens Center: Lili Anderson, senior director of development, (205) 934-6196, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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