‘When words fail, music speaks’

Sandra ClarkNorth Knoxville, Obits

The family of Lillian Coleman wrote a remarkable obituary about a remarkable contributor to Knoxville and beyond. Read it here.

To summarize, she was a teacher, a writer, a musician, a community activist, a sports fan and a collector of African art and books.

She passed on May 7, 2023, at age 87 and requested no funeral services.

Ms. Coleman graduated from Austin High School and Knoxville College. She taught music for 32 years in public schools including Beardsley and Vine junior high schools and Austin-East High School. She directed the Knoxville City All School Choir and organized a community choir that performed for charitable organizations and churches.

A high honor was her selection to direct the choir for the “Music and the Arts” program during the Martin Luther King Jr. celebration held at Greater Warner Tabernacle African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church. The program included the combined performance of the Community Choir and the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra.

Recognizing the spiritual impact of music, she worked with various churches and summer camps. Her students have become vocalists, music directors and teachers. As one said, “When words fail, music speaks.”

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