Making music

Dr. Clint Wight honors piano teacher with donation to Clayton Center

Clint Wight has made a donation to the Clayton Center for the Arts in honor of his childhood piano teacher, Carol Ann Smalley.

Clint Wight has made a donation to the Clayton Center for the Arts in honor of his childhood piano teacher, Carol Ann Smalley.

An old family photo shows 14-year-old Clint posing with his teacher.

An old family photo shows 14-year-old Clint posing with his teacher.

Although Dr. Clint Wight pursued a career in medicine, his formative years were enriched by the fine arts.

Now a physician and medical director with Blount Memorial Family Care Centers, Wight began his study of the piano in middle school. It lasted throughout high school and included numerous lessons, recitals and competitions in Maryville College’s Fine Arts Center.

As an MC student from 1993 until 1997, Wight was a member of the Concert Choir and Orchestra. Sitting at the piano, he accompanied many fellow college students during their recitals.

In 2006, he once again tickled the ivories in the Fine Arts Center’s Recital Hall during Doctors’ Day, an event sponsored by Blount Memorial Hospital in honor of doctors and their service to the community.

The Fine Arts Center and its recital hall are only memories now, razed to make way for the new Clayton Center for the Arts, which is currently under construction on the MC campus. But Wight isn’t looking back; he’s looking forward to the opening of Clayton Center and is assisting with the fundraising to complete the $47 million project.

Remembering his former piano teacher Carol Ann Smalley, Wight and his wife, pediatrician Dr. Heather Wight, have made a gift to the facility that will name a practice room for Smalley.

As an independent piano teacher, Smalley taught students in her home studio as well as at New Horizon Montessori School for 25 years. An adjunct piano instructor at Maryville College, she coordinated the College’s Preparatory Program for 10 years and served as an accompanist for many vocal and instrumental students for almost 15 years.

“Ms. Smalley gave all she could to prepare us for recitals and competitions - even giving free bonus lessons. She sacrificed her weekends to travel with her students to competitions across the state. That is dedication,” recalled Wight. Smalley was very complimentary of Wight, who studied piano with her during his years at Maryville Middle School and Maryville High School.

“Clint was a teacher’s dream student: talented, dedicated and musical. During his junior year, he won the Tennessee Music Teachers Association’ high school award,” Smalley recounted.

When Smalley learned that the Wights dedicated a practice room in her honor, she said she was overwhelmed.

“I am proud of Clint and Heather and their dedication to the community through their careers. I am doubly proud that they are sharing what they have with Clint’s alma mater,” she commented.

Located on the campus of Maryville College and constructed through a partnership of the College, the cities of Maryville and Alcoa, and state and federal governments, the Clayton Center will celebrate the art and culture of the Appalachian region by serving as a venue for local musicians, performers and artists. Its design will also accommodate plays and musicals, concerts by touring musicians and orchestras, traveling art exhibits, film series, children’s plays and presentations by nationally recognized speakers.

Wight said that he decided to donate to the Clayton Center because he wanted to “give back to the school that gave so much to (him)” and because he believes the Center will be a wonderful resource to the community.

“I see us living in this community for a long time, and I want my children to have the opportunity to take classes and attend events at the Clayton Center,” he said of his 3-year-old daughter, Danica, and 2-month old son, Andrew.

Recognizing that the Center will bring new people and businesses to the area, Wight decided to take an active role in increasing community awareness of the nearly-completed fine and performing arts center.

Earlier this year, Wight wrote letters to Blount County physicians, encouraging their participation in the project. He and his wife also hosted a gathering of local physicians in their home, hoping others would be inspired by the possibilities of the Clayton Center.

“I want to encourage people to attend fund-raising events for the Center, to recognize the valuable asset it will be to the region, and then to donate any amount they are able,” urged Wight.

Smalley added, “As we see the plans become a reality, we have a visible sign that Blount County is teaming with artists and talent. I hope all who love Maryville College and Blount County and have benefitted in some way from an arts program as a performer or audience will say, ‘I want to be a part of this building. Here is my gift!’”

Fundraising continues for the Clayton Center for the Arts. Approximately $41 million has been raised on the $47 million facility.

There are specific ways for individuals and businesses to become part of the project. With a price tag of $2,000 per seat, seats in the main performance hall may be named for anyone the donor chooses. With two lines of text and 14 letters/spaces per line, outdoor pavers may also be named for anyone the donor chooses. Pavers are $1,000 each, but if named for a student, child or grandchild under the age of 18, the discounted price is $250 each. (Children’s pavers will be laid in a special section in the plaza.)

Spaces in and around the Clayton Center are still available for naming, including the outdoor plaza, the premier special events room and several dressing rooms and practice rooms. Prices tied to named spaces start at $25,000.

Opportunities to purchase VIP benefactor benefits packages include preferred seating, parking and invitations to special VIP events. Packages start at $10,000.

Any wishing to sponsor shows, recitals or artist series at the Clayton Center, should call Executive Director Robert Hutchens at 865-981-8264.

For giving opportunity details and forms, visit www.claytonartscenter.com. For more information about giving opportunities or fund-raising events, contact Holly Jackson-Ludlow, vice president for advancement and community relations, at 865-273-8884 or holly.ludlow@maryvillecollege.edu.

Donations also may be sent to Maryville College, Office of Advancement, 502 E. Lamar Alexander Pkwy., Maryville, TN 37804.

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