In this issue
Christy Forester '83Ox reflects on a musical "adventure"
Christy Forester '83Ox loves to tell the story of the night in 1991 when she and her three older sisters, collectively known as the country vocal group the Forester Sisters, stood up the Grammy Awards in Los Angeles.
"[My oldest sister] Kathy was still nursing her little girl," she says. "The year before, we had seen someone at the Grammys with a child, so we thought it would be all right to take her. We had her dressed up in her little gown, and we were all ready for our wonderful seats at the Grammys. We started to walk into the program, but they wouldn't let us take the baby in. So Kathy's husband took the baby and went back to the hotel. The rest of us sat down for a few minutes, just getting madder and madder. Finally, we got up and left. We sold our Grammy tickets on the sidewalk, and we spent the money on a great dinner in all our finery."
The incident is emblematic of Forester's down-to-earth take on the success of the Forester Sisters, whose twelve albums have sold in the millions. "Our little snippet of fame was perfect for us," she says. "We could sustain a career and go on this great adventure with each other, with our family, but it wasn't so big that our lives were irreparably changed. We've had the best of both worlds."
Sisters Kathy, June, Kim, and Christy grew up surrounded by relatives in the small community of New Salem on northwest Georgia's Lookout Mountain. They began singing their lush, four-part harmonies in the local United Methodist Church. As they grew older, they made appearances at parties and clubs in Chattanooga and Atlanta. "It was kind of a hobby, something we did on the weekend for fun," Forester says.
Things got serious when they recorded a demo that landed in the hands of a Warner Brothers executive, who called and requested an audition.
"We thought it was a prank phone call," Forester says. "We didn't even know the tape was in Nashville." But when the sisters signed a contract with Warner Brothers in 1984, their career took off.
Forester had earned her Oxford degree in 1983 and was continuing her studies in sociology at Emory. After her junior year, however, she left school to devote her energies to the group.
"We knew we had to give it a try," she says. "But we also gave ourselves a two-year limit, and if we had made no progress, we'd go back and get on with real life."
The Forester Sisters recorded their eponymous debut album in 1985. Their first single, "(That's What You Do) When You're In Love," reached the top ten on Billboard magazine's country charts. The next single, "I Fell In Love Again Last Night," went all the way to number one. Their string of hits continued with five more number-one singles, including "You Again" and "Mama's Never Seen Those Eyes." The Foresters became the first act to place each of their first fourteen singles in Billboard's weekly chart of hits.
For several years, the sisters toured with their band, business associates, and seven children in two cramped buses, appearing regularly with Kenny Rogers and the Oak Ridge Boys. The Forester Sisters have received three Grammy nominations and three Country Music Association (CMA) award nominations. In 1986, they were named CMA Vocal Group of the Year.
"We were just very flattered by it all," says Forester. "And the best part of it was that we got to do it together." This commitment to family kept her solidly grounded as the group's popularity reached its peak in the early 1990s.
After twelve years, Forester, whose son and daughter are in elementary school, grew tired of the group's grueling schedule of touring and studio work. "Every year, another one of our children entered school, and we realized we needed to stay home and go to Girl Scouts and softball games," she says.
As her sisters began pursuing other careers, Forester returned to college. She completed her bachelor's degree in sociology at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga this year, and she also works full-time for an interior design firm.
The Forester Sisters have returned to their Lookout Mountain home, where all four still live within several miles of their parents' house and sing in church together from time to time. But they haven't abandoned the music business altogether. Last year, their most recent Warner Brothers album, More Than I Am, received a Nashville Network Music City News Country Award nomination, and their version of "Old-Time Religion" was featured in the soundtrack of the Jodie Foster film Contact. They continue to tour on a smaller scale in the summer and make regular appearances in the Chattanooga area. A new recording project may be in the works.
"We've talked about recording an album of nostalgia tunes, like 'Chattanooga Choo-Choo' and 'In the Mood,' but with an updated slant," Forester says. "That would be fun. We miss singing together every day."--A.O.A.
Victory was no close shave
Three Emory College alumni and one currentstudent recently took top honors in the national
Collegiate barbershop quartet championships, held in Atlanta. Prime Cut, which includes (from left) baritone Eddy Sattah '98C, tenor Mark Lamback '95C, lead Stuart Ambrose '00C, and bass Willie Mays '98C, defeated nineteen other quartets from across North America in the contest, sponsored by The Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singing in America. The quartet--all of whom have been members of Emory's male a capella group, No Strings Attached--was favored coming into the contest, having placed second last year in the competition in Indianapolis. It also won the regional Dixie District championships the last two years.
"This whole week has just been one wonderful experience after another," Lamback said shortly after the July competition. "Since our name was announced as the winner, there has been a nonstop flow of phone calls, e-mails, media appearances, and congratulations. What makes it so much greater, though, is that it happened here in Atlanta, our hometown."
Prime Cut's compact disc, Beef Country, will be released in the coming months. Its ten songs include "Put Me to Sleep with an Old Fashioned Melody" and "Love Me and the World is Mine," the two selections the ensemble performed for the championship.--A.O.A.
Oxonians at Play
Intercollegiate athletics return to Oxford
After an eight-year absence, intercollegiate sports are returning to Oxford College. This fall, new junior varsity teams in men's and women's tennis, women's soccer, and men's basketball are competing with nearby small colleges and universities, including LaGrange, Gordon, and Andrew colleges.
"A junior varsity program gives us the flexibility to play a variety of schools not in any particular conference," says Oxford Dean of Students Joe Moon.
Oxford ended its participation in a junior college league in 1991 because NCAA Division III rules barred junior college student athletes who continued their studies at Emory College from playing varsity sports. "[The junior varsity program] will help in the recruitment of students who wish to remain active in a sport," says Oxford Dean William H. Murdy. "And it will promote school spirit and enable us to feed talented students into the Emory varsity program."
The largest freshman class in Emory history-1,347 strong-arrived on campus in late August, bearing boxes and lugging luggage to residence halls that looked like frontier boom towns. The super-sized class-with about 185 additional students-is significant for other reasons, as well. Almost 27 percent are members of ethnic or racial minorities, and 2 percent are international students. (Above) Jennifer Grotas, a freshman from Woodmere, New York, settled in to her new digs in Longstreet Hall.
Oxford College also reaped a bumper crop of applicants this year. Its freshman class of 367 came from a record number of 1,161 prospective students, up 28 percent over last year. Minorities accounted for 32 percent of the new class.
Emory hurler spends his summer in the Alaska League
If the odds of becoming a professional baseball player are a million to one, imagine what they are for someone from an NCAA Division III school that does not offer athletic scholarships. But Emory University student-athlete Jon Lee is looking to buck the odds.
The rising College senior spent the summer playing baseball in the Alaska League, one of two premier leagues for college baseball players. Lee was the only Division III player in the entire league, but to his credit, Lee demonstrated that Division III does not signify third-rate athletes. Lee was signed by the Mat-Su Miners, located in Palmer, Alaska, by the team's head coach, who coached Lee at his Acton Boxboro, Massachusetts, high school.
Lee, the number one starting pitcher and an all-region performer for Emory, was originally slated to be a reliever for the Miners, but opportunity paved the way for a spot in the starting rotation.
In the second game of the season, the starting pitcher struggled and was removed in the second inning with the Miners trailing 6-0. Lee took over on the mound and held the opposition scoreless until he was replaced in the ninth inning with the Miners ahead 7-6 in a game they eventually lost.
But Lee remained a starter for the rest of the season. And his Division I teammates would inquire why a pitcher as good as Lee was at a Division III program.
"I wanted to get the best education possible," Lee said. "If professional baseball becomes a possibility, great; otherwise I'll be in a good position with an Emory degree."--J.A.
The Emory Eagles finished fourteenth in the nation for best all-around athletics program out of some three hundred and fifty ncaa Division III schools for 1997-98. This is the third consecutive year Emory has placed in the top fifteen nationally. Thirteen of the University's seventeen varsity teams participated in NCAA national championships, including the men's tennis team, which finished fourth nationally.
"A Bridge to the Future"
A new library addition unites traditional and electronic resources
Nestled among native trees and plants between the towering Robert W. Woodruff Library and the historic Asa G. Candler Library on the Quadrangle, Emory's new Center for Library and Information Resources spans more than the terraced ravine that once separated the two buildings.
"This space is a bridge to the future," says Steven Kraftcheck, associate dean in the Candler School of Theology and chair of the Library Policy Committee of the University Senate.
Dedicated last spring, the 69,000-square-foot, $23.2-million granite, glass, and steel addition unites the library's traditional print materials and new electronic resources. The four-story facility holds nearly two hundred miles of fiber-optic, copper, electrical, and telephone cable; more than twelve hundred data lines; seating for more than seventeen hundred; more than two hundred individual study spaces; ten group study areas; ten classrooms (including three with videoconference capabilities); and three seminar rooms.
"The more we integrate print and electronics, the more our sense of research and experience and thought will change," Kraftcheck says. "Historically, libraries have been nodes of information, repositories and centers for knowledge dispersion. They've also been the result of revolutions and occasionally the cause of revolutions. In crucial moments, libraries have had to shift their self-understandings radically to accomplish all of those goals. I think at the end of the twentieth century, this is one of those moments for libraries."
With hundreds of information databases now available to Emory Internet users, the addition has enabled the digital delivery of countless resources to dorm rooms, offices, and off-campus housing via computer. Students and faculty can search Emory's entire library catalog, read electronically archived United Nations documents, look up a word in the on-line Oxford English Dictionary, and download articles from hundreds of on-line academic journals--all from their homes or offices.
That doesn't meanpeople aren't flocking to the new space. In fact, according to Vice Provost and Library Director Joan Gotwals, use of the building has doubled in the last several months.
"The library as place continues to be a vital element of the University," Gotwals says. "We deliver information to the desktop, and yet they come, and they come in larger numbers than ever before. People want to learn and gather together."
Gotwals attributes this increased use to the Information Commons, a key concept in the design of the new center. The addition's spacious, open area is dotted with clusters of study carrels containing computers. Library users can access the multitude of on-line and CD-ROM resources or use software programs to complete and print out a research paper or project. Eighty staff members, including twenty-six information technology specialists, are on hand to provide service and support. And a newly configured reference area unites staff, technology, and print materials in an integrated setting.
"It's obvious that this space puts students at the forefront," says Robin Thomas, an Emory College senior who appreciates the addition's ample windows, comfortable chairs, and large tables. "This facility encourages students to linger, to study in open spaces and not to rush in and out merely finding books."
University President William M. Chace agrees that the facility is part of a transformation of the role of academic libraries. "In information, resources, and knowledge, increasingly we're going to move into a world of the library that you cannot see," Chace says. "It will be digital, it will be electronic, and it will be a means of handling with enormous speed and accuracy the information of the world. We are standing on the edge of a frontier that none of us can really imagine."
The next step toward that frontier begins with the final phase of the project. When funding is secured, a Center for Music and Media will be created on the fourth floor of the new addition to house Emory's music, film, and video collections; a film viewing room; and individual listening carrels. The facility will deliver audio and video programs over the campus network and provide music faculty and students--as well as musicians, artists, and scholars in others areas of the University--with equipment and resources for composition, study, and research. Further, a planned renovation to Candler Library will include a reading room (as it did in its original form in 1926), classrooms, and administrative and academic units.
"This center is our way of expressing our passion for knowledge and our respect for the contributions of scholars and students of the decades before us and what they will bring to us in the future," says President Chace. --A.O.A.
J. Willis Hurst pens a history of the Department of Medicine
Even though medical teaching, practice, and research at Emory are world renowned, it was a bad report card that initially led to the formation of the Emory University School of Medicine. In 1910, American educator Abraham Flexner, working under the auspices of the Carnegie Foundation, conducted a survey of the quality of the country's medical schools. Flexner's report was highly critical of proprietary medical schools, like the Atlanta Medical College, which were not affiliated with a university.
"It was a blistering attack," says cardiologist J. Willis Hurst, who was professor and chairman of the Department of Medicine at Emory from 1957 to 1986. "The American Medical Association began to support [the ideas in the survey], which placed schools like the Atlanta Medical College in jeopardy. This was all happening around 1914, when Emory University was being established. So the Atlanta Medical College went to the University and asked them if they would take it over, with all its assets and debts. And that was the beginning of Emory's School of Medicine."
That anecdote is one small part of Hurst's exhaustive new book, The Quest for Excellence: The History of the Department of Medicine at Emory University School of Medicine, 1834-1986. He says he wrote it in part to give people some perspective.
"Many new people are coming to Emory, and they know so little about the history of the Department of Medicine and how we got to where we are. I hope this book might be of some value to them," says Hurst, who now serves as a consultant to the Division of Cardiology and teaches eight sessions a week. "I believe it's useful to know how you got to where you are because it may help you make decisions about what you are doing and what the future may be."
Hurst spent two and a half years on the project, which not only examines the Department of Medicine but also chronicles the genesis of the University in 1834 and its early history.
In the prologue, Hurst writes that as he worked on the book, "I became increasingly interested in the people who were responsible for the enormous forward thrust of Emory University, its School of Medicine, and its Department of Medicine." Consequently, Hurst tried to humanize The Quest for Excellence by including a substantial amount of biographical material. And of all the individuals who had an impact on the department, Hurst says Eugene Stead, chairman from 1942 through 1946, may have left the greatest legacy.
"Stead clearly lifted [us] from almost zero to A plus," says Hurst. "He thought the future [of the department] was going to be on the Emory campus. He believed we should continue Emory's presence downtown at Grady Hospital, but he felt the hub of the outfit had to be where the University was and that a private clinic should be developed."
Toward that end, the Planning Committee of Emory Medical School, of which Stead was a member, released a document in 1946 that made those recommendations. In his book, Hurst describes the release of that document as "the defining moment" of the medical school.
Hurst is now working on two additional books. The first, written with two neurologists, examines the relationship of the brain to the heart. The second is a children's book he will co-author with his grandson.
Hurst believes the future of the Department of Medicine is bright, and that optimism is reflected in the title of his book, The Quest for Excellence.
"I wouldn't dare say that [the department] had achieved excellence; that would be a little arrogant," explains Hurst. "I can say that the quest was persistent, tenacious, and that everyone knew that was the goal. . . . It's the quest for excellence that makes meaningful progress, not the declaration that excellence has been achieved." --J.D.T.
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