Family, friends celebrate the life of Dorothy Lee Grier

Music scholarships in honor of Dorothy Lee Grier were awarded to two local children on Saturday, July 3. (Submitted photo)

Music scholarships in honor of Dorothy Lee Grier were awarded to two local children on Saturday, July 3. (Submitted photo)

In an uplifting outdoor celebration of music and reflection, a crowd of about 150 family and friends gathered in Idlewild to honor the legacy of longtime resident and musical leader Dorothy Lee Grier.

Amid perfect sunny weather, they came together in lawn chairs under canopies at historic John Meeks Park on Saturday, July 3 to listen to the sounds of gospel, jazz and R&B performed on stage.

The event honored Mrs. Grier, a classical pianist and violinist, who died in December 2020 at age 87. She was widely known in the Idlewild and Baldwin communities as the pianist at Tabernacle A.M.E. Church and First Baptist Church of Idlewild. She was also a music instructor and accompanist.

"We honored mom's legacy by providing the community with a festival venue," said her son C.J. Kingdom-Grier, noting the park is the home of the Idlewild Jazz Fest. He added that music scholarships in her name were awarded to two local children. The scholarships will be presented annually, he said.

Jazz and blues classics were performed by Mrs. Grier’s daughter Gezelle Myers and the DJAM band of Midland. Columbia College professor Jordan VanHemert & Friends played a swinging jazz medley. And Vanika Brandon and The Wild Ones got the crowd dancing with R&B tunes.

Two of her grandchildren performed. Gezelle Kingdom-Grier played the violin and sang “Grandma’s Hands.” Jewell Bland offered a moving piano solo. The festivities ended with a rousing gospel performance by her children, Myers, Kingdom-Grier, Erica Grier-Anderson and several grandchildren, all wearing purple, Mrs. Grier’s favorite.

“We were pleased to honor her in such a unique way, as it was a testament of her life,” Myers said. “Giving back to the community by awarding music scholarships culminated the celebration of my mom’s life.”