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Finding Our Folks: Terry Andrews

Ambitious, hard-working, intelligent people aren’t hard to find throughout Emanuel County. From lesser-known citizens to well-known leaders, Swainsboro and other municipalities in the area are fortunate to call these folks, the ones who make a difference, “ours.” Of course, some of “our folks” have moved off and shared themselves with the world in various respects. The “Finding Our Folks” part of The Crossroads Chronicle aims to track down and catch up with our hometown people.

This week’s profile features Terry Andrews, whose interview was conducted by Halei


Okay, start at the beginning. Give a little background about yourself.

Andrews: My name is Terry Andrews. I’m 29-years-old, and my parents are Terry Leon Andrews and Gwendolyn Ann Bowers of Swainsboro. I have three older sisters: Shina Simmons, Channeice Andrews, and Cherece Andrews. I’m from Swainsboro, and I graduated from Swainsboro High School with honors in 2010. During high school, I marched in the band and became drum major, participated in track and field, and cheered.

What came after high school for you?

Andrews: After graduating from Swainsboro High School and meeting Hall of Fame member of Phi Beta Mu International Bandmasters Fraternity the late Jesse L. Walker at the S.E.U.S. Honor Band, I chose to attend an HBCU (a historically black college and university) for my undergrad. I attended the “Unsinkable” Albany State University on a full-ride scholarship. At Albany State, I studied flute with Dr. Michael Decuir. While at ASU, I was a member of the Marching Rams Show Band, and I became drum major from 2013-2015, symphonic band under the baton of Dr. Michael Martin and Jesse Walker, jazz ensemble under Dr. Michael Decuir, and concert chorale under Dr. Marcia Hood. Outside of the university, I was selected to participate in the GMEA All-College Band and HBCU National Band Director’s Consortium. I graduated with honors in the Spring 2015 with my Bachelor of Music Education. Since graduating from Albany State, I have performed as a Lyceum Series Guest Artist and feature performer with the Symphonic Band.

After I graduated from Albany State, I attended Valdosta State University for my graduate studies on a full-ride graduate assistantship that covered my tuition and offered me a monthly stipend. As a graduate assistant, my duties included being the administrative assistant of South Georgia String Project, playing in the Opera Orchestra, and playing in the Valdosta Symphony Orchestra. While at VSU, I also played in the wind ensemble under Dr. Joe Braisher, concert band under Dr. Tonya Mitchell-Spradlin, and flute choir. At VSU, I studied flute with both Dr. Elizabeth Goode and Dr. Daniel Alexander. During my time at Valdosta State, I was afforded the opportunity to perform at the Florida Flute Convention and with the 116th Army Reserve Band. I graduated from Valdosta State with my Master of Music Performance (Flute).

After attending Valdosta State for my master’s, I studied at the Schwob School of Music at Columbus State University on scholarship with Dr. Andrée Martin. While at Schwob, I played in the wind ensemble under Dr. Jamie Nix and the Philharmonic Orchestra and Contemporary Ensemble under Professor Paul Hostetter. I graduated from Columbus State with honors in the spring of 2020 during the coronavirus pandemic.

And where are you at today?

Andrews: Currently, I am pursing my Doctorate of Musical Arts in Flute Performance at the University of Missouri–Kansas City Conservatory of Music. I have completed my first year of doctoral school, and I was recently elected president of my flute studio.

Why did you decide to pursue studies in music? Was this always your plan?

Andrews: Music has always been my passion and first love. I really can’t see myself doing anything else. Music has been that one constant in my life that has brought me joy; it has pulled me out of some dark times. I genuinely believe that music has the beauty and power to heal.

To expand on that, I have always known I wanted to pursue music as a profession. I’d like to give a special thanks at this time to my directors, Dr. Gene Hundley and Barry Golden, for being so much more than just educators but mentors as well. Their gifts of knowledge, wisdom, guidance, and advice have extended well beyond the band room and into my adult life as I pursue a doctorate degree in music. I owe them so much to them for believing in me and fostering my raw talent and eagerness to do more. Not too many students from Emaneal County go off to study music, but because of Dr. Hundley and Mr. Golden’s passion and dedication, I knew from an early age what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

Tell us about any awards and achievements you’ve received in college to date.

Andrews: During my matriculation at Valdosta State University, I auditioned and became the principal flute of Orchestra Noir, Atlanta’s African American Orchestra.

Were you part of any fraternities and/or student organizations? If so, explain how these organizations have molded you.

Andrews: Yes, I was. I was initiated into the Alpha Iota Chapter of Alpha Kappa Mu National Honor Society in Spring 2015, the Zeta Gamma Chapter of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity of America, Inc. in Spring 2016, and the Theta Sigma Sigma Chapter of Phi Beta Sigma in Fall 2017. My involvement with each of these illustrious organizations have taught the true meaning of persistence, patience, time management, cultivating my leadership skills, and networking and making meaningful and lasting connections.

Are you working yet? If so, tell our readers a little about what you do.

Andrews: Right now, I’m a full-time doctoral student, but I’m also a professional freelance musician and private studio teacher. I started teaching private lessons during my undergrad, and I started playing professionally in 2016 when I joined Orchestra Noir as principal flute.

What are your plans, both short-term and long-term?

Andrews: My short-term goals are to win the flute position for the Fellowship Wind Quintet at UMKC, compete in more competitions, and earn my doctorate. My long-term goals are to win a fellowship with the New World Symphony Orchestra in Miami, Florida, win an orchestra job, and win a teaching job at a university. My dream job would be playing in a studio for movie and soundtrack music.

It seems like you stay pretty busy. Do you have time for hobbies?

Andrews: Actually, I do somewhat. In my spare time, I love to do anything music-related. I also like to dance, cook, walk, hike with my dog, and craft.

The whole point of our “Finding Our Folks” aspect of The Crossroads Chronicle is to track down our local people and tell about where they’ve moved off to, in addition to the interesting things they’ve done. Tell us about the different locations you’ve lived in so far.

Andrews: Absolutely! So I lived in Albany from 2010 to 2015, Valdosta from 2015 to 2018, and Columbus from 2018 to 2020. I moved to each of these cities for school.

I first moved away from home in 2010 when I left for college. I moved to the southwest part of the state to attend Albany State University. It was scary at first being far away from home, friends, and family. Being a part of the marching band at ASU, however, made making friends a whole lot easier.

I’m currently living in Kansas City, Missouri. I moved here in August 2020 to pursue my DMA art UMKC. I love that it’s a bigger city with more opportunities. Also, the city is a big supporter of the arts. I absolutely love the fall weather because of how the entire city looks when the trees change colors.

Can you talk a little more, give your opinion on how Kansas City differs from Swainsboro?

Andrews: We actually get four seasons of weather, which is nice. It is a much larger city. Kansas City sits on Missouri’s western edge, straddling the border with Kansas. The city is really supportive of the arts, especially music. It’s known for its barbecue, jazz heritage, and fountains.

Is there anything you miss about home? How often do you get to return, and when you do, what are your priorities?

Andrews: Certainly I miss home. I miss how simple things were at times, and I also miss the pace of things there. I try to come home as much as my career and school allow me to. When I do get the chance to come home, I make it a priority to see as much as my family as possible.

How did growing up in Swainsboro help get you where you are today?

Andrews: That’s a great question. I think growing up in little ol’ Swainsboro has taught me to be humble and remember where you come from. Also, it taught me to open my mind to endless possibilities of what I could become in this world, to dream big and make those dreams a reality. I am blessed to be where I am today, but there is no place like home.

And on a related note, name some influential people who have helped get you to this point in your life.

Andrews: I am grateful to have many people who have influenced me along my journey from Swainsboro as well as connections I have made once I left. Those people are: Dr. Gene Hundley and Barry Golden, as I mentioned earlier, Erma Jenkins, Dr. Sonji Leach, Bobby Andrews, Brice Hobbs, Kathy Andrews, Dr. Michael Decuir, Jesse Walker, Dr. Alfonzo Cooper Jr.. Dr. Andrée Martin, Ricardo Corbie, and Dr. Jennifer Grim.

Do you have any advice for young people who might read this interview?

Andrews: My advice is for you is to embrace what makes you different. You are not meant to blend in with everyone else; you were meant to stand out. Be your authentic self, and never jeopardize your individuality. Surround yourself with people who love and support you. Take advantage of every opportunity you have to grow. Do not get complacent because everyone around you is. The worst thing you can do is tell your big dreams to a small-minded person.

What’s the key to success, in your opinion?

Andrews: The keys to success are patience, persistence, and perseverance. Success is not comparing and/or measuring your own success to someone else’s. To me, success is always doing your best, believing you can, celebrating the small victories, overcoming fear, not giving into doubt, and never giving up.

Lastly, is there anything you’d like to say to your community?

Andrews: I would encourage the community of Swainsboro and Emanuel County to celebrate and support more than just the students who play sports. There are students achieving great things in areas other than sports. Do not dimmish your child’s dreams or stifle your child’s creativity because you are not knowledgeable about what they want to do in life or force them away from something because you think it is not masculine or for boys and/or girls. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard a parent say, “My son isn’t playing the flute because that’s for girls.” Do not deny someone of their greatness because you are ignorant. You never know what someone will become when they realize their full potential, believe in themselves, and have a strong support system.

The world of classical music is predominately dominated by Caucasian people, but it is slowly changing. Now, I see more and more African American people obtaining doctorate degrees in music, winning teaching jobs at major conservatories, winning jobs in major symphony orchestras, and being sought after composers more than ever before. Children need to see people who look like them achieving greatness so they know that they, too, can do it. I hope to join the ranks of those who have come before me and inspire the next generation of children. Soon, I will be the first person and African American from Swainsboro to earn a Doctorate in Music Performance from a major conservatory.

Do you have someone you’d like to nominate for inclusion in the ”Finding Our Folks” part of The Crossroads Chronicle? Call Halei Lamb at 478-494-3376, email, or stop by 571 South Main Street, Swainsboro.

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