Dr. Sharon Elizabeth Kenney was born December 22, 1950 in Opelika, AL. She graduated with honors from Samford University in Birmingham, AL, with a Bachelor's Degree in Music Education. She completed her Masters of Music degree from the University of North Texas and earned her doctoral degree at The University of Texas at Austin. While working on her master's degree, she took an apprenticeship with the Chicago Lyric Opera Center for the American Artist, where she debuted in the role of Konstanze in Mozart's Die Entfuhrung aus dem Serail. Maestro Walter Baracchi, at Chicago Lyric, encouraged her to participate in the Bel Canto Seminar in Busseto, Italy (the birthplace of Giuseppe Verdi) where she studied with Renata Tebaldi and Carlo Bergonzi. She won honors at many international vocal competitions: the Mario del Monaco competition at Villa Manin, Italy, the Belvedere Wettbrew fur Opernsanger in Vienna, Austria and the Rosa Ponselle Competition in New York.
Sharon has sung Beethoven's Missa Solemnis, and the Ninth Symphony, Mah-ler's Third Symphony, Mozart's Mass in C, and Verdi's Requiem. In opera, she has performed leading roles in Puccini's Tosca, La Boherne and Suor Angelica, Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor, and L'Elisir d'amore and Menotti's Amahl and the Night Visitors. She was the musical director at The Nightingale-Bamford School in Manhattan, NY and conducted numerous Gilbert and Sullivan produc-tions, as well as other musicals. Her choirs performed at Carnegie Hall and Madison Square Garden and toured Spain, Italy and England.
While in Busseto Italy, she established the Concerto di Natale for San Bar-tolomeo Catholic Church. This Christmas program began as a local church choir concert with organist, and evolved over 20 years to include commissioned works, special guest artists and orchestral accompaniment. Christmas 2009, Sharon premiered II Canto della Rosa, expressly written for her by Dr. Christopher Cooley. During the summer of 2011, she sang the role of Reverend Mother in the Fort Smith Little Theatre production of The Sound of Music under the direction of George Mann. In the summer of 2013, she taught choral master classes in Arezzano and Ravenna, Italy.
At the university level, Sharon taught at Mannes College; The New School for Music (Prep Division) in New York; Chestnut Hill College, Philadelphia; New Jer-sey City University; and McLennan Community College, Waco, TX; University of Arkansas, Ft. Smith and University of the Ozarks.
As a church musician, her church choirs have performed Randy Bass's Gloria, Faure's Requiem, Saint-Saens' Christmas Oratorio and Vivaldi's Gloria - all with orchestra. She has served as Organist/Choir Master at Church of Our Savior Episcopal Church (Jenkintown, PA), Choir Director at Lakeway Ecumenical Church (Lakeway, TX) and Minister of Music for Youth and Children (First Unit-ed Methodist Church, Denton, TX). She has also served as Minister of Music and Traditional Worship Leader at Greenwood United Methodist Church, (Greenwood, AR). She is survived by her husband of 20 years, William Biggart of Paris, Arkansas; her parents Rev. Leslie and Martha (Lockhart) Kenney of Gallatin, Tennessee and siblings Andrea Pitt of Gallatin, Tennesee, Steve and Melanie Kenney of Culleoka, Tennessee and Aletha Kenney of Coppell, Texas. She is also survived by seven nephews, their families and a niece and her family.
A memorial service will be held at 2:00 p.m., on Saturday, January 4, 2020 at the First United Methodist Church in Fort Smith, Arkansas under the direction of Roller Funeral Home in Paris.