Taber Gable: Turning grief into promise

Susan EspirituKarns/Hardin Valley, Our Town Arts

The stories of Taber Gable and Katelyn Oliver are interwoven among grief, generosity and talent, both connecting through the East Tennessee Foundation and the Joy of Music in Knoxville.

Taber Gable is a renowned jazz musician. He has been hired by the University of Tennessee College of Music to begin teaching in August, sharing his talent and love of music.

As a young man, Gable was a student at the Joy of Music School in Knoxville and received opportunities to go to summer camp and audition because of special funds established by donors with the East Tennessee Foundation.

Many of those donors are now remembering, Katelyn Rae Oliver, who passed away in 2021, at age 34. In her memory, parents Terryl and Mike Oliver set up an endowment fund through the East Tennessee Foundation (ETF) that will offer the joy of music to children in perpetuity, beginning in 2025.

Katelyn Rae Oliver

The Olivers said Katelyn was always drawn to music, playing in Karns’ middle and high school bands and then joining the choir at Pellissippi State Community College. Katelyn played percussion, piano and guitar.

“She played gigs around Knoxville and sometimes she’d even invite me up to sing with her and that was really my favorite thing to do,” her mother, Terryl Oliver, said. “Not long after losing Katelyn, we realized we wanted to do something positive in her name and her memory so that something good would come from what was to us a tragedy.”

With the help of ETF, the parents created the Katelyn Oliver Memorial Opportunity Fund for Music and Music Education.

The fund will help support the mission of the Joy of Music School, a local nonprofit that offers free music education to children who might not otherwise have the opportunity or access to learn.

The Joy of Music School executive director, Francis Graffeo, said ETF’s designated funds offer kids special opportunities that the school couldn’t provide otherwise, such as money to audition or attend summer camp such as the one Taber Gable attended as a youth.

Taber became the first ever student to be awarded a four-year jazz piano scholarship to the Hartt School of Music, where he graduated before getting his master’s degree from Juilliard, also on scholarship, Graffeo said.

To donate to the Katelyn Oliver Memorial Opportunity Fund for Music and Music Educationclick here.

To learn more about leaving a lasting legacy, call the East Tennessee Foundation at 865-524-1223 or visit

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(photo from WUOT website)


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