insisted that I have the best possible music instruction, so it
was decided that I should go to Oberlin College, Emily Putnam
26 recalls in her self-published 1998 autobiography, The
Story of My Life.
modest charm and a flare for storytelling, Putnam shares a life
filled with family struggles and a joy of music that has spanned
decades. After Oberlin, she earned an MSM from the Union Theological
Seminary School of Sacred Music in New York and accepted a piano
teaching position in Minter City, Mississippi. She also taught piano
privatelywell into her 80sand served as organist, director
of music, director of religious education, and director of the childrens
choirs at Calvary Church in North Carolina.
was 90-plus when she stepped down, recalls Lloyd Owens, her
replacement at the church. At 98, she still comes to church
and sits in the front row. When I see her I think, I have
to do well, because shes a perfectionist. She might
nod at me and say, Might need to brush that one up a little
more. I admire her feedback.
A 19-year resident of a Tarboro, North Carolina, retirement community,
Putnams musical influence still motivates her former students.
Putnam was a very thorough teacher, recalls former piano student
Sally Moseley. She was serious, but not unfriendly or inflexible.
She patiently helped me through Star Wars and You Light
Up My Life, but she was always committed to the classics.
During spring recitals, students would head to Putnams home
for music, small bottles of Coca-Cola, and peanuts. Parents were
I think back over the trials and tribulations of my early years,
I have to be very thankful for all that has happened to me,