Muñoz family supports music program

Submitted photo

Charlie and Linda Muñoz, left, have shown their support for UWA’s music program with their generous donation of a digital grand piano for campus performances. Dr. Christopher Shelt, right, is a professor of vocal music and choral director at UWA and says support like that from the Muñoz family helps ensure a well-rounded education experience for aspiring musicians and performers.

LIVINGSTON, Ala.—The University of West Alabama launched its revitalized music major this fall, bringing opportunities for students with a broad range of music interests to prepare for occupations and activities. The new program is gaining popularity among students as well as community members like Charlie and Linda Muñoz, who have shown their support with a digital grand piano for performances on campus.

The first performance on the instrument was presented by Dr. Manley Blackwell at a concert held at the Bell Conference Center on campus featuring the Kemp Duo, presented by the Sumter County Fine Arts Council. The Muñoz family will dedicate the piano in honor of Blackwell, a recently retired emeritus professor of music.

Blackwell is held in high esteem by his musical colleagues, not only for his exemplary performance abilities, but also for his steadfast willingness to assist others in their own professional pursuits. His contributions to UWA’s Fine Arts department and the University as a whole has been fundamental in maintaining and expanding its cultural presence in Sumter County and beyond.

Like Blackwell, the Muñoz family strives to preserve through support the cultural arts of the community and the Black Belt region. Residing in Cuba, they work in a studio that adjoins their home.

Linda is a glass artist, and her art started in quilting. Her glass mosaic designs are showcased in large-scale installations throughout the nation, including one at the United Nations Worship Center in New York and locally at Kentuck Gallery and Black Belt Treasures. A musician trained in classical cello, Charlie is a metal artist and creates jewelry and bronze sculptures. They share their talents through workshops and programs for all ages.

The Muñoz family has shown support to promoting the art and culture of the region for many years, including projects at the Black Belt Museum. They established the Dr. R.C. & Emily M. Hill Fund through the UWA Foundation in honor of Charlie’s parents in support of the Black Belt Museum and its educational programs. Their generosity has helped pave the way an array of exhibits as well as workshops for area students and teachers throughout Sumter and Marengo counties.

“The University is grateful for the support that Linda and Charlie have shown over the years,” said Christopher Theriot, director of development at UWA. “We seek collaborations and partnerships that can be most beneficial for our students and the communities we serve, and the Muñozes have provided support financially and through the sharing of their time and talents to enrich the programs we offer. Their commitment to culture and education is exemplary.”

UWA’s music major offers a flexible degree that allows students with a broad range of music interests to prepare for music occupations and life activities that may be pursued full-time, part-time or as an avocational endeavor.

“We want to develop students who will graduate and excel as classical and contemporary music performers, musical theatre performers, church musicians, vocal/choral specialists, collaborative pianists, and music technicians,” said Dr. Christopher Shelt, professor of vocal music and choral director at UWA. “All music majors will be trained in strategic leadership, communication, and business skills in order to position themselves in a diverse and radically-changing musical world.”

“As the music program is developed to flourish, support like that we have received from the Muñoz family will be integral for the foundation of a well-rounded and vision-driven legacy of arts for West Alabama and the Black Belt region,” Theriot said.

For more information on the UWA’s music degree program, contact Dr. Christopher Shelt in the Department of Fine Arts by email at or 205-652-3437.

To learn more about opportunities to support the arts at UWA, contact Christopher Theriot in Institutional Advancement at or 205-706-0542.

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