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Bland Memorial Contest


A Brief History of the Bland Memorial


Previous Contests 2017 Bland Contest Winners
  2016 Bland Contest Winners
  2015 Contest was cancelled due to Multiple Snowstorms
  2014 Bland Contest Winners
  2013 Bland Contest Winners
  2012 Bland Contest Winners
  2011 Bland Contest Winners
  2010 Bland Contest Winners
  2009 Bland Contest Winners
  2008 Bland Contest Winners
  2007Contest Participants and Review


2006 Contest Participants and Review
2005 Contest Information


The Virginia Lions’ Bland Memorial Music Scholarship Contest is the ultimate result of many years of effort on the part of the Virginia Association of Lions’ Clubs.

The Lions of Virginia first became interested in James A. Bland in 1938, as the composer of the stirring song, “Carry Me Back To Ole Virginny.” Impressed by the patriotic fervor and nostalgic quality of this lyric, the Lions began a campaign, which resulted in the General Assembly of Virginia officially adopting the song, in 1940, as the Virginia State Anthem. In 1994 the Virginia State Senate adopted the revised song “Carry Me Back to Old Virginia” as the State Song. In February 1997, the Virginia state legislature of voted to retire the song.

James A. Bland, the greatest Black writer of American Folk Song, composed over seven hundred songs, a number of which were outright contributions to Americana.

In 1938 as Virginia Lions inquired into the career of “Jimmy Bland,” they found that his grave was unknown and unmarked. Further investigation found his grave in a cemetery in Merion, PA, near Philadelphia. The Virginia Lions erected a suitable monument over the grave. The culmination of this work became a feature of the 1946 Convention of Lions International at Philadelphia. On that impressive occasion, July 15, 1946, the dignified monument was unveiled in the presence of many distinguished representatives of Government, the world of music, and of Lions International. At the Lions International Convention in Philadelphia in 1997, Virginia Lions rededicated the monument at James Bland’s grave.

The Lions of Virginia were not content that a monument of granite should suffice to memorialize the work of the author of our official State Song. As a permanent living memorial, they established the Virginia Lions’ Bland Music Scholarship Program. Scholarships for musical excellence in both instrumental and vocal performance are awarded annually. Since the initiation of these contests, the Lions have continuously added to the value of the scholarships. Today the contest is spread over the entire state, commencing with individual Club, and thereafter expanding through Zone and/or Region, and District competitions to the final state contest at the annual State Convention. The first Bland contests were held in 1948 with the state finals in Roanoke. Two awards of $150 were given to the winners. Through the interest and efforts of the Lions of Virginia, the music Scholarships have grown from 2 to 12 scholarships which amount to $12,600.00 at the state level. The project is financed entirely through voluntary contributions from the Lions Clubs throughout the State of Virginia.

Contest Schedule

Poquoson Competition-
February 14th, 2018

Deadline for entries
February 9th, 2018
Word Doc | PDF

Region I:
Date: TBD
Location: TBD

District 24-D:
Date: TBD
Location: TBD

Date: TBD
Location: TBD


Bland Memorial Contest Committee Members

  • Lion Dave Welch- Chairperson
  • Lion Shannon Phillips
  • Lion Keith Feigh

REGION l Bland  - 
Chairperson is  Lion Sandy Mikulecky, 804-725-9536
  Lancaster, Matthews, Middlesex:  
at Lower Meth Church. contact Michael Firkins 804-776-0925
Poquoson High, Shannon Phillips   869-2265
Christ United Meth.,   Patricia Morrell  757-930-3299
Bruton Parrish House, Greg Hodge 757-253-0855
Yorkminster Presb Church,  Peter Guhl    757-890-2020

New Kent County   
Providence Forge Pres.,    Mary Edwards  804-966-9366

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2017 Bland Contest Winners

Poquoson Lions held its Bland Music Contest on 15 Feb. Pictured are from left to right, Poquoson Lions Club host Dave Welch presents the Bland Contest winners; 1st place Sarah Heifetz, 2nd place Brandon Turner, and 3rd place Esther Kim.

2016 Bland Contest Winners

Poquoson Lions held its Bland Music Contest on 1 Feb. Pictured are Club President Shannon Phillips, contestants Tyler Smith, Liam Billings, Christine Lee, 1st place instrumental, Colin Freeman, 1st place vocal, and Bland Chairman Dave Welch

2015 Contest was cancelled due to multiple Snow Storms


2014 Bland Contest Winners


The Poquoson Lions held their annual Bland Music Competition on February 3rd at Poquoson High School.  The competition is held every year in memory of Jimmy Bland, composer of the Virginia State Song Emeritus, "Carry Me Back to Ol' Virginny."  This year's competition attracted drew 10 musicians who vied for first place and the opportunity to continue on to the next level, eventually hoping to win at the State level.  The audience was treated to classical renditions by nine pianists and one vocalists.  While all competitors are winners, those pictured received special recognition and awards. The Bland Competition held by Lions Clubs state wide is the only such competition for those training in classical music.
Participants and winners of this year's competition are pictured here.

From left to right, Charlie Harris, 1st VP, Isabella Stansbury 1st place vocalist, May Wong 3rd place instrumentalist, Edric Han 2nd place instrumentalist and Tuan Nguyen 1st place instrumentalist.

Visit the Archive to see all our past competitors

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