Dr. Evans Whitaker, president of Anderson University (SC) announced the creation of the Johnny Mann Center for Commercial Music at Anderson University in memory of the two-time Grammy Award-Winning composer, arranger, entertainer who made Anderson his retirement home until passing away recently.
At the Mann Family’s request, Whitaker made the announcement during a memorial service for the legendary musician attended by music industry luminaries from around the nation Saturday.
“Johnny Mann represented so much of what we hope to inspire in our students as they pursue a professional music career,” said Whitaker. “He did everything with excellence, professionalism and integrity. In the years AU enjoyed a close relationship with him, he made a large impact on the South Carolina School of the Arts, which he helped conceive and launch in 2013 as we rebranded our College of Visual and Performing Arts as one of the nation’s premier schools of professional music, theatre, dance, art, and design. It is fitting that we recognize him and also thank his wife Betty in this way.”
Anderson’s bachelor’s degree in commercial music is being developed in keeping with the National Association of Schools of Music’s (NASM) standards and is pending final approval from NASM. The new major is performance based and focuses on more contemporary styles of music such as jazz, pop, bluegrass, rock, rhythm and blues, and more.
Doug Norwine, a career musician who has spent most of his career in the music industry, has been named director of the Mann Center. A busy studio musician in Los Angeles for the past 28 years, Professor Norwine has been featured on such television shows as Roseanne, Full House, Seinfeld, The Tonight Show among others. Norwine has received 12 Gold and Platinum records from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for his work.
Mann, the leader of the 1960s and 1970s era Johnny Mann Singers, recorded more than 30 albums of college songs, Christmas songs, patriotic songs, Beatles songs and familiar tunes spanning several musical eras, from “Ol’ Man River” to “Chattanooga Choo Choo” to “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” and “Mrs. Robinson.”
The Johnny Mann Singers’ first Grammy Award was for the 1961 album “Great Band With Great Voices” and his second was received in 1967, was for “Up, Up and Away” that rose number six (#6) on the UK Singles Chart in Great Britain in January 1967. From 1971 to 1974, Mr. Mann was the host of “Stand Up and Cheer,” a syndicated television variety show with a patriotic slant.
From 1967 to 1969 Mann was the music director for “The Joey Bishop Show,” a late-night talk show on ABC that was meant to compete against “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.”
Before that, he was musical director for “The Alvin Show” (1961), the original animated series about three singing chipmunks (it was created following the success of a 1958 novelty record) who have since been revived in a number of television shows and movies. In later appearances by the chipmunks, Johnny was proud to be the voice of Theodore for many years.
Mr. Mann was selected to compose a Anderson University’s Centennial Alma Mater, “The Sounds of Anderson” for the University in 2011. The University presented him an honorary doctor of humanities degree in 2013. He was a frequent visitor to Anderson performing arts functions and participated in The President’s Gala this past April, conducting the Anderson University Choir in a rousing performance of his award-winning hit “Up, Up and Away,” which drew a standing ovation from a grateful audience. It was the last public performance for Mann who passed away on June 17th at the age of 85.