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Abell Family String Scholarship

This scholarship honors the work of Usher Abell and Jack Abell in the realm of stringed music education, student mentoring, and increased access to instruments and quality teachers for all who want to learn. It is meant for those who might not otherwise have the opportunity to become musicians themselves.  

History of the Fund

Usher Abell taught stringed instruments at the University of South Dakota for over 30 years, and served as chair of the Music Department for over 15 years. Along with his wife Barnes, also a musician, the Abells helped found and support the National Music Museum. They instilled a love of music into their children, Jack Abell and Dr. Thomas L. Abell, as well as their grandchildren, all of whom play instruments.

Jack Abell moved to Memphis in 1975 with his family to join the faculty of what was then Memphis State University.  He also taught at Rhodes College, founded multiple ensemble groups including the Tennessee Summer Symphony and the Beale Street Chamber Orchestra, served as principal violist of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra, and as conductor of several regional orchestras and symphonies. Jack passed away in the summer of 1993 from complications with pancreatic cancer. Usher and Barnes Abell passed away in 2003 and 2006 respectively.

Jack’s children established this scholarship fund to honor their father and grandparents’ lifelong commitment to music and music education. 

Eligibility Requirements

All applicants must:

  • be enrolled in or currently pursuing college coursework consistent with a degree in music string performance;
  • be a member of a school or other organized string ensemble or orchestra; and
  • submit the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis scholarship application form and the required attachments.

Renewal applicants must contact Vanessa Langston at (901) 722-0032 or vlangston [at] cfgm [dot] org for a renewal application.

A complete application includes:

  • completed Community Foundation of Greater Memphis scholarship application form;
  • short performance sample on CD;
  • one-page personal statement outlining education or career goals;
  • two letters of recommendation, including one letter of recommendation from a music teacher or orchestra leader familiar with the applicant;
  • copy of your ACT and/or SAT scores;
  • most recent high school or college transcript; and a
  • copy of your Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) Student Aid Report (SAR) and Expected Family Contribution (EFC) information, OR your College Scholarship Service (CSS) Profile. 

This scholarship is awarded to one student each year. The scholarship award amount will be $1,275.

Applications for this scholarship are due April 3, 2017.