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ACTU pays tribute to Billy Joel at Sunday concert

With more than 150 million records sold, 33 Top 40 hits and 23 Grammy nominations, Billy Joel is considered one of the most popular recording artists. In honor of this incredible musician, ACTU (Arts for the Community at Thomas University) will present a “Salute to Billy Joel” as part of its Sundays at Four series on Sept. 9.

“We are really excited about paying this musical tribute to Billy Joel, who is such a prolific songwriter and composer,” Dr. Karl Barton, series coordinator, said. “Most people don't realize that his output is so varied, and that he has written classical and rag-time piano compositions, in addition to nearly every kind of popular music style.”

Songs will include Joel’s number-one hit song “It's Still Rock and Roll to Me” and other chart toppers, such as “Piano Man,” “Just the Way You Are,” “Uptown Girl” and “New York State of Mind.” The performance will feature members of the Thomas University Jazz Ensemble and featured singers Jimmy Gillis, Tony Chapman, Grady Enlow and Karl Barton.

Guest musician Jimmy Gillis was brought up in Brandon, Florida, where he began studying music as a violin student at the age of 10. A few years later he switched to the string bass as his primary orchestral instrument. Gillis studied bass, classical guitar and jazz guitar at Florida State University. Gillis began studying choral music at the age of 14 and continued vocal study through college. He received a Bachelor of Music Education Degree from FSU. Gillis is a noted performer around the country in many different facets of the music industry, including orchestras, jazz bands, R&B, country and bluegrass ensembles. He is also the violin and strings teacher at Apalachee Tapestry Magnet School for the Arts in Tallahassee.

Tony Chapman recently retired as the Director of the Employee Assistance Program at Archbold Medical Center. He is an accomplished singer and tenor saxophone player who has performed with the Thomas University Jazz Ensemble for many years.

Dr. Grady Enlow is the interim Associate Dean for Community Engagement and Entrepreneurship in the College of Music at Florida State University. He has been actively involved in promoting arts and leadership through service organizations, community leadership programs and serving on the boards of a variety of community arts organizations in Florida and Georgia. Enlow enjoys performing in churches and on community theater and music stages as his busy academic schedule allows. He has performed in the past with ACTU and is excited to join them on this concert tribute to Billy Joel.

At TU Dr. Karl Bartonis Professor of Music, Chair of Humanities and Interdisciplinary Studies, and Coordinator of ACTU. He serves on the Board of Trustees of the Thomasville Entertainment Foundation and is a past president of the Florida Flute Association. Barton earned a Doctor of Music Degree in Flute Performance along with a Master’s degree in Historical Musicology and certificates in early music and world music from Florida State University. He regularly performs in Thomasville and Tallahassee as a soloist, with chamber orchestras and other small ensembles.

The Billy Joel Tribute begins at 4 p.m. Sunday at the Music and Drama Troupe Building, 427 Covington Ave., Thomasville. 

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