Louis Thurston Nicholas was born in Trimble, Tennessee on October 2, 1910, the son of Jeff Thurston and Lottie Dunivant Nicholas. He received the A.B. degree at Southwestern at Memphis (now Rhodes College) in 1934, did post-graduate work at the Memphis College of Music from 1934-1938, received the M.Mus. degree at the University of Michigan in 1939, and received a diploma for Specialist in Music Education from Columbia University in 1952. He was married to Sarah Elizabeth Lacey ( Feb. 28, 1908 - May 15, 1990 ) on March 27, 1942, and they had three sons: Joel Edward (Aug. 28, 1943-), David Paul (May 13, 1945- ), and Kevin Lacey (Feb. 28, 1947 -). Included in the papers are personal and biographical materials relating to Sarah L. Nicholas and sons Jody, David , and Kevin.
His career as an educator includes positions in Dyer County, 1928-1930, and the Memphis public schools, 1936-1941, and Instructor of Music at North Texas State Teachers College, 1941-1944. In 1944, Nicholas came to George Peabody College for Teachers, where he was a member of the music faculty until 1979. Shortly before his retirement from Peabody College, Mayor Richard Fulton designated April 29, 1979 as "Louis Nicholas Day" in Nashville. He served as the Chairman of the George Peabody College Summer Concert Series for seventeen years. After his retirement Mr. Nicholas taught at Belmont University, Scarritt College, and Trevecca Nazarene College, all in Nashville.
Shortly after moving to Nashville, Louis Nicholas became the choir director of the First Lutheran Church, 1945-1946; he was also choir director of the West End Methodist Church from 1946-1957; choir director of the Vine Street Christian Church, 1958-1969; and tenor soloist, cantor 1946-1977, and music director, 1959-1977, at The Temple, Congregation Ohabai Sholom.
Louis Nicholas was a music critic of note, having held the position of Music Editor and Critic for The Tennessean in Nashville from 1951 to 1975. Among his affiliations and memberships were the National Association of Teachers of Singing, of which he was a charter member, and served as president from 1962 to 1964; the Music Teachers National Association; Music Educators National Conference; the American Institute of Vocal Pedagogy, of which he was a fellow; the American Academy of Teachers of Singing; Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia; and Omicron Delta Kappa.
Mr. Nicholas authored Thor Johnson:American Conductor (1982) and a number of professional journal and magazine articles. He also contributed chapters to Symphony Orchestras of the United States,edited by Carl Craven (1985) and The Choral Director's Guide by Kenneth L. Neidig and John W. Jennings (1967).
As a vocalist, Mr.Nicholas performed thirty-six programs without repetition, including a series of eight historical lecture recitals covering seven centuries of music and ten countries, and three series of important song cycles. In addition, he made numerous appearances as an oratorio and orchestral soloist. He was known throughout the United States for his vast knowledge of vocal repertoire and led many workshops and seminars in voice. His pupils have been soloists with the Nashville Symphony and other orchestras, members of the Metropolitan Opera and the Radio City Glee Club, and singers with Fred Waring and Robert Shaw.
Louis Nicholas is listed in Who's Who in Music; Who's Who in American Education; Who's Who Directory of American Scholars; Who's Who in the South and Southwest; International Who's Who in Music.
"The Papers of Louis Nicholas: A Manuscripts Collection" was on exhibit in Special Collections in the Jean and Alexander Heard Library at Vanderbilt University from May 21-June 30, 1995.
He served with AUS 1942-1943.
Over 3000 pieces of sheet music and 280 music collections were given by Louis Nicholas to Belmont University School of Music Library.
The Scrapbooks and Memorabilia of Louis Nicholas include highlights from his life and career.
Until January 2003, when he moved to Memphis, Louis Nicholas remained active in the Vine Street Christian Church, where he served as an Honorary Elder. He also continued to teach voice.
Louis Thurston Nicholas died on Wednesday December 28, 2005 in Memphis, Tennessee.
He was 95. A memorial service for him was held on Saturday January 7, 2006 at
the Vine Street Christian Church in Nashville. He is buried in Woodlawn Memorial
Park in Nashville, TN. The program and Eulogy for this service are held in these
papers at the end of the Personal and Biographical Series.
Scope and Content | Biography
| Series I: Correspondence | Series
II: NATS | Series III: Personal and Biographical
Series IV: Academic and Musical Career | Series V: George Peabody College Material | Series VI: Tennessean Career
Series VII: Thor Johnson | Series VIII: Church Related Materials | Series IX: Programs | Series X: Publications
Series XI: Sheet Music, Songs and Catalogs | Series XII: Promotional Materials | Series XIII: Photographs | Series XIV: Addenda
Special Collections | Heard Library | Vanderbilt University
Copyright © Special Collections, Jean and Alexander Heard Library, Vanderbilt
Last modified: April 10, 2008
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