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Owens, Sam Batt

Sam Batt Owens should have a monument erected in his honor. Any musician who has been a college professor for thirty-seven years, a parish or cathedral music director for fifty-six years, the past president of the Association of Anglican Music, and a Rockefeller Foundation recording recipient, and who has published 268 works deserves some recognition, if not by monument or knighthood, then certainly by some sort of public acclamation.

He lived in Memphis, Tennessee, which is the reason that his voice boasts a mellifluous Southern rhythm that settles even the most ragged spirit. His degrees are from the same region of the United States, with a Bachelor of Music degree from the Birmingham Conservatory of Music, a Master of Music from Birmingham Southern College, and a Doctor of Musical Arts from Peabody College of Vanderbilt University. In 1997 he was appointed to the post of organist at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Memphis.

Of his nearly 270 compositions, GIA has published 36 of them. His most recent one, "Peace Be to You" (G-4285), is very similar to much of his writing. It is accessible without ever being clichéd and predictable.

Sam Batt Owens passed away in the spring of 1998. His innate talent and years of experience in helping thousands of worshipers provided a fertile planting and harvesting ground that has served the church well.