Be There When Lightning Strikes

News

Set your text size: A A A

Fran Shelton, retired HHS band director, inducted into Bandmasters Hall of Fame

Steve Sigmon, band director at North Henderson High School, presented the Bandmasters Hall of Fame Award to his mentor Fran Shelton, the longtime HHS band director, on Sunday in Greensboro. [PHOTO BY MIRANDA MCFALLS] Steve Sigmon, band director at North Henderson High School, presented the Bandmasters Hall of Fame Award to his mentor Fran Shelton, the longtime HHS band director, on Sunday in Greensboro. [PHOTO BY MIRANDA MCFALLS]

Fran Shelton, who led the Hendersonville High School band for 28 years, was inducted into the North Carolina Bandmasters Hall of Fame on Sunday, becoming the youngest band leader to be honored and the fourth woman.

 

Shelton said she was especially honored that a successful band student that she mentored, North Henderson band director Steve Sigmon, nominated her. Sigmon presented the award to his former teacher before the 2019 North Carolina All State Bands performed at UNC Greensboro on Sunday.

A Hendersonville native and 1977 graduate of HHS, Shelton was only the fourth band director in the history of the school’s much-decorated band program. In 1987 took over from Jim Stokes, another homegrown teacher, who had led the HHS band for 20 years. Stokes, a 2007 Bandmasters Hall of Fame inductee, recalled in a 2015 interview, when Shelton retired, that he had heard from Ray Babelay, the director of bands at Mars Hill, where Shelton had enrolled and was honing her trumpet playing.
“He called me one day and said ‘this is the most determined little gal I’ve ever taught,’” Stokes said.
 After graduating cum laude from Mars Hill with degrees in elementary education and music education, Shelton earned a master’s degree in music education from Appalachian State University. She taught band at Robbinsville High School for five years before coming home to teach at HHS and Hendersonville Middle School.

Under her baton, the school's symphonic and marching bands performed at Billy Graham's Congressional Medal Ceremony, the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, the Gator, Sugar and Orange Bowls, Carnegie Hall, Symphony Hall in Boston, the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., Chicago Symphony Hall, the Renee and Henry Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Los Angeles, Disney World and Atlanta Symphony Hall. In September 2011, School Band & Orchestra magazine featured HHS as "A Small School with a Big Band."

A past president of the North Carolina Bandmasters, Shelton continues to serve as tour director of the North Carolina Band Ambassadors, leading high school musicians on performing trips to Europe. She also conducts closer to home; last September she accepted the position as musical director of the Asheville Community Band.
“Needless to say I am extremely excited,” she said. “But, having so many great students and parents and mentors and my mom and dad letting me start band in the 6th grade have really contributed to this award.”
Band directors and music teachers at the North Carolina Music Educators elected Shelton during their annual conference in November. Only three band directors are inducted each year.
“We consider this to be the highest honor we bestow to our colleagues,” N.C. Bandmasters President-elect Jamie Bream said in a letter last month to Shelton.