New choral director inspired by beautiful campus

Melissa Logan is Richland’s new choral director. Her decision to accept the position came in a rather unusual way.

“I made my decision to come here on a Sunday,” said Logan. “I came here by myself to walk around and to just say, ‘Is this the right thing?’”

Logan, 47, said she remembers thinking, “This is such a lovely, lovely campus.”

“It’s one of the reasons why I knew I was supposed to take the job,” she said. “You know, you have the peace signs. I just thought, this is a campus that is committed to more than just the brain – there’s something understanding the spirit.”

Logan comes to Richland from McKinney Boyd High School. She started with the school as head choral director when the school was new and stayed for 10 years.

Now at Richland, she said every morning she walks the long, winding path around the labyrinth on her way to her office in Fannin Hall. She sees it as a beautiful part of the campus and enjoys seeing the geese freely roaming on the grounds.

Her hiring occurred with the help of former choir director Dr. Michael Crawford, who reached out to her as a candidate, among others. Crawford retired earlier this year, but returned this summer to help get her oriented.

“They [Richland] had done a jazz festival here, and I would bring my jazz choir from Boyd to their jazz festival,” Logan said.

“I’ve become this big passionate believer in what a two-year college means to students’ lives and to the community,” Logan said “I think far too often McKinney Boyd is a very successful high school with kids who go to MIT. I think sometimes we set up things to serve just that very top 1 percent.”

Logan, who directs four choirs this semester, said she thinks the two-year college gives students a second chance and helps those who have financial difficulties.

“I want to take music and contribute to this overall mission of what a two-year college does in the community and for a person’s life,” she said. “And, in particular, I’m excited to get to take those kids that want to be choir directors some day and to set a good example, a good model for them and help them have skills to be great choir directors. I got to do that in high school, but now I get to do it closer to when they’re actually going to graduate and do the job. I’m excited about that.”

Logan has a bachelor’s degree from Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls and a master’s in choral conducting from Emory University. She grew up in Iowa Park, Texas, and now lives in Melissa, where she recently married. Her 11-year-old stepson proudly displays a Thunderduck on his backpack at school.

As a singer, Logan got started early in life and remembers imitating Sonny and Cher, the pop duo on TV in the 1960s.

“My first debut was in kindergarten leading ‘Frosty the Snowman’ at the winter program,” she said. “I think Mrs. Gray was my elementary music teacher, so I always say to elementary music teachers, you are so important because that’s where it started for me.”

In college, Logan said she had a great time singing jazz.

“In a local club in Wichita Falls, we would get together every weekend. That’s where I sort of got a really good education in how to sing jazz,” Logan said. “I would sing blues and things like that – that’s probably where I had the most fun.”

Logan had some advice for Richland students.

“Let college be your job, if you can. Come here and don’t try to make it like this extra thing that you do, if you can help it,” she said. “Just absorb everything that you can. Richland really shows that all of your life is a time to learn, but this is such a rich time for those traditional students. Don’t limit yourself. Let your education be more than just what you’re getting credit for. Really soak it in. It’s a lovely thing to do.”

Logan is also responsible for the music recitals on campus every Tuesday from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. in the Performance Hall, which are free and open to the public. She said she is looking forward to one special music project she has coming up this semester.  It’s her fall debut concert as a college conductor at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 11, also in the Performance Hall.