Dr. Toni Anderson
Chair & Professor
Toni Passmore Anderson, mezzo-soprano, brings a wealth of performance, scholarly, and administrative experience to LaGrange College. She earned a Ph.D. in Higher Education from Georgia State University, a Masters degree in Vocal Performance from The New England Conservatory of Music, and the Bachelor of Music degree from Lamar University. She has been on the faculty of LaGrange College since 1999. Previously, she taught at Morris Brown College in Atlanta and Gordon College in Wenham, Massachusetts.
As a singer, Dr. Anderson has performed over sixty concerts, operatic productions, and solo recitals in the United States and abroad. Recent performances include Honegger's King David, Bach's Magnificat, Mendelssohn's Elijah, Stravinsky's Les Noces, and the premier of Lee Johnson's Symphony No. 7: Infinitude, performed at the Moscow Conservatory. Repeat performances of Johnson's work were given at LaGrange College's 175th anniversary celebration, and at the Human Rights Defenders Conference, hosted by former President Jimmy Carter at the Carter Center in Atlanta. She performed the title mezzo-soprano role of Mme. Bernardey in the world premiere of Curtis Bryant's Zabette in Atlanta, which also aired on WABE Radio (Atlanta). Other premiers include the works of composers Len Horton (From the land of the farther suns), Mitch Turner (Three Songs), and Sharon Willis (The Opera Singer). She has performed in concert with the LaGrange Symphony Orchestra, the Atlanta Virtuosi, Camerata Musica (Columbus, Georgia), ONYX Opera, the Boston Musica Viva, the Boston Academy of Music, members of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, and numerous university and civic chorales.
Dr. Anderson is the winner of the 47th Georgia Author of the Year Award for her book Tell Them We Are Singing for Jesus: The Original Fisk Jubilee Singers and Christian Reconstruction, 1871-1878, a social history of the ground-breaking choral ensemble, published by Mercer University Press. Of her book, Judge Samuel Fred Roach wrote:
This well-researched and perceptibly written study presents a mature and multi-faceted view of freedmen and women during the immediate post-Civil War era... Clear, honest, perceptive, and vivid character and institutional collages add to the human mosaic depicted by the work. This volume presents the best combination of research, vividness of style, and mature analysis. Depictions of the specific ways certain religious beliefs manifested themselves and effected decisions is instructive concerning fundamentalist Protestants during the era. And the interplay of differing and sometimes conflicting personalities involved in the story is presented with fairness, sensitivity, and insightfulness.
Dr. Anderson participated with WGBH-TV in Boston in the making of a documentary on the Jubilee Singers which aired May 2000 as a part of PBS's American Experience historical series. Her research interests extend to issues in higher education. She is published in the Southeastern Journal of Music Education, and co-authored an essay entitled, "Building Conversations of Respect: The Voice of White Faculty at Black Colleges" that appears in Affirmed Action: Essays on the Academic and Social Lives of White Faculty Members of Historically Black Colleges and Universities, by Foster, Guyden, and Miller, editors.
Dr. Anderson is the governor of the Southeastern Region of the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS). She has also served as the President, Vice President, and Registrar for the Georgia Chapter of NATS. She holds membership in the College Music Society, the Society of American Music, History of Education Society, and Delta Omicron International Music Fraternity, and also serves on the board of the LaGrange Symphony Orchestra.
Dr. Anderson is the wife of the Reverend Chuck Anderson, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Shawmut, Alabama. Together, they have served in numerous Christian ministries throughout the United States. Dr. Anderson has also served on various church conference boards, participated in multiple music ministries, and led several women's retreats.