The Founding Story

It all started with an abiding love of music, a deep sense of civic pride and responsibility, and a recognition of the value of music and musical expression in people's lives. As a new resident of Cherokee County (ca. 1987) and Music Committee member of the Cherokee County Cultural Arts Council, Genevieve Miller realized that the singers and musicians of the county needed an outlet for their abilities. She contacted Judith R. MacMillan and Donald Stafford, two talented local musicians who were experienced in conducting and musical education. Applying their effort and skill the Cherokee Community Chorale was born.


Christmas selections from Handel's "Messiah" were featured at the fledgling Chorale's first concert on December 5, 1988. Directed by Dr. Stafford and accompanied by members of the Atlanta Symphony, the concert included traditional Christmas carols, pieces by the Cherokee Concert Band directed by Harold Sharp, and a suite by a string quartet from the Atlanta Symphony. This beautiful music was so well received by the community and so meaningful to the singers that it became a tradition for several years.


In the Spring of 1989, the Chorale shifted musical style to "An Evening of American Music" featuring selections by George Gershwin, Irving Berlin, and Scott Joplin. This lighter program directed by Judye MacMillan was performed at the old Canton High School Auditorium and as a dinner concert at the Gordy Center, Reinhardt College.

The Founders

Genevieve Miller
"Gen," as the Chorale members fondly called her, graduated from Ohio State in 1937 with a degree in Music Education. After her marriage to chemical engineer Robert Miller, the couple moved to Atlanta, where she sang in the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus under the direction of Robert Shaw, taught piano, and directed the choir at Trinity Presbyterian Church. A move to Cherokee County in 1980 led to Gen's involvement in volunteer work with public school music and environmental issues. Then came the Chorale.

Judye MacMillan
Judye MacMillan held music degrees from Carson-Newman College and Georgia State University, did graduate work in conducting at at Cincinnati Conservatory of Music and studied in England, Italy, Germany, Austria, and France. From 1974 until her death in 2007 she served at Reinhardt College as Chairperson of the Music Department, Director of Choral Activities, and conductor of groups that have performed in New York, Washington, and Moscow. She was musical director for Camp Crestridge for Girls in North Carolina for 25 years.

Dr. Donald Stafford
Don Stafford earned music degrees at Shorter College and the University of Michigan, and in 1985 he received a PhD in music from Florida State University. Since 1971, when he became choral music director at Cherokee High School, he has served as Director of Music at the First Baptist Church and is currently serving at the First United Methodist Church, both of Canton. He has performed with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus under the direction of Robert Shaw.