“We all come to the Handel Society from different walks. It is the job of the leadership team to take this assembled throng and make a choir.” ~ David Smith, Co-Assistant Conductor, Knoxville Handel Society.
Even though David and I have participated in KHS since its inception, we both admit that we never had any awareness of each other. This realization set the tone for our examination of what is unique about KHS — and the possibilities for the future of the society.
David is well-connected both locally and state-wide, particularly in church music. He was born in Knoxville and graduated from Doyle High School in 1980. He will soon celebrate his 35th reunion with his class from Carson Newman College where he received a bachelor’s degree in church music with an emphasis on voice and choral conducting. In 1985, he married Cindy, a soprano in KHS. Their daughter, Sarah, lives in Chicago where she works in the music industry; their son, Andrew, and his family live in Knoxville where Andrew is general manager and the director of training for the Buddy’s Barbecue.
While David studied Church Music at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, a church in Western Kentucky persuaded him to accept a call. Three years later, he returned to the Seminary while serving First Baptist Church in Brandenburg, Kentucky. He calls this his “exodus from Tennessee.” After returning to Knoxville in 1992, he sang under the direction of Wendell Boertje at Central Baptist Church in Bearden and directed an 18-voice auditioned ensemble. After Wendell retired in 2010, David served as interim minister of music and obtained a masters from The Robert E. Webber Institute for Worship Studies.
Since 2013, David has served as associate pastor for music and worship at Valley Grove Baptist Church. He leads a youth choir, instrumental ensemble and a 50-member adult choir. He challenges singers to strive for excellence, confident that “only a little extra effort separates excellence from mediocrity.” He has high expectations of the groups he directs, especially in the sacred context.
Even though David meets every criteria to be called a “musician,” he describes himself as a well-rounded man who values family (especially Thursdays with his granddaughter, Gracie) and community. He enjoys individual sports, such as fishing, as well as team sports, and has served several seasons as the public announcer for Tennessee baseball.
In addition to singing, David extends his time talents and gifts to include the responsibilities of conducting and administrative tasks of KHS because he loves the art of choral singing and has “a sense of accomplishment when the work is finally presented.” For him, music is worship and he offers God his best just as he encourages the musicians under him. He is confident that “from these shared experiences, community is built.” He particularly welcomes his new teammate, Elizabeth, and he shares her optimism for the future of the Knoxville Handel Society.