Published on September 14, 2018 by Ashley Smith  
dean hopkins singing

Samford University’s School of the Arts opened its performance season this week with an impressive display of talent from its faculty at the Faculty Gala.  Thanks to Patty McDonald for underwriting the gala and the reception that followed along with the many friends of Samford Arts for coming and supporting the event.

Professor and Department Chair of Performance Studies in the Division of Music Randall Richardson notes, “This year’s Faculty Gala, an annual event at Samford, was one of the best in recent years. It featured a wide variety of musical selections ranging from classical to musical theatre and finishing with a song from Bye Bye Birdie, updated and performed by Dean Joe Hopkins and music faculty. A depth of talent was evidenced by the number of newer faculty who performed.”

The evening included performances by Jovanni-Rey de Pedro, Brian Walden, Chelsea Nicholson, Paul Wolf and Sadie Goodman, all new faculty additions.  Composer and Assistant Professor Mark Lackey played an original piece.  He will be releasing a new C.D. Fairy Tale this November.    The Samford String Quartet took part in the show as well as former faculty member Moya Nordlund who accompanied her son, current lecturer and cellist Samuel Nordlund.  Other performers included Demondrae Thurman, Kristin Kenning, Tim Heath, Don Sanders and Vera Britton.  From show tunes to the classics, the audience was well-entertained. 

The grand finale included a serenade by Dean Joe Hopkins to his administrative assistant Suzy Metts, entitled “Suzy, Talk to Me.” Hopkins recently experienced a medical emergency while traveling in Costa Rica. The finale shared a “farewell” video from Hopkins along with a chorus of scrub clad back-up singers.  In recent years, Brad Diamond and Hopkins have treated the audience to a fun and often hilarious musical tribute to complete the show. 

From student recitals to guest artist series, the School of the Arts features over 200 performances annually, enriching the Samford community along with the Birmingham arts community.  For more information on upcoming events visit




Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.