ACU Honors Elder Statesman of the Concert Stage

for immediate release Dec. 11, 1997

Bass baritone soloist Charles Nelson will be honored for making a difference in the lives of Abilene Christian University alumni through his service as musical artist-in-residence.

Nelson will receive the Alumni Faculty/Staff Award for 1997-98 from ACU during a reception in his honor on Sunday, Dec. 14, from 2-3:30 p.m. in the Mabee Business Building Atrium.

Nelson, who joined ACU's faculty as a professor in 1984, has taught and entertained hundreds of thousands of people in more than 2,000 performances over several decades.

"Charles Nelson is in a class of his own," said Dr. Royce Money, ACU president. "As a musician, as a performer, as a Christian servant, and as a family man, his devotion and his excellence are an inspiration to all."

Nelson, who has studied music since the first grade, joined the choir at the University of North Texas in Denton when he was only 15 years old. By age 17, he was the top choir's premier bass soloist. He went on to earn both bachelor's and master's degrees in music from North Texas in 1950 and 1951, respectively.

However, in the summer of 1948, after military service in World War II and a little more than a year of marriage, he was struck with polio and was hospitalized for six months. The disease left him with only partial use of his legs, but did not affect his voice. Within a couple of months after his release, he was on tour with a choir, even though he was on crutches.

While today he still moves about on crutches and a three-wheel bicycle, Nelson has had an active career performing great oratorio, concert and opera works as well as choral conducting, lecturing and teaching young singers throughout his native Texas and the world.

In 1993, Gov. Ann Richards honored Nelson with a citation from the State of Texas "for his tireless work in promoting music and advancing the arts throughout the world." He has performed at Carnegie Hall in New York City, the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., throughout Western Europe and Korea and almost all 50 states, singing with dozens of different orchestras and at more than 100 universities.

Nelson's teaching career began in Texas public schools, then moved on to David Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tenn., where he eventually became chair of the music department. He later taught at East Texas State University before coming to ACU. ACU honored him with an honorary Doctor of Music degree in 1987.

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Last update: January 22, 1998