Black History Month Spotlight: Hazel Shanks Hynson

bhm hazelEducator and Musician Extraordinaire Hazel Shanks Hynson was a renowned educator and an extraordinary musician who through the years trained many accomplished musicians including the late jazz musician Art Porter.

Hynson earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in music, with a major in piano, from Atlanta University. She completed further study in piano, including advanced theory and harmony, with master musicians and instructors hailing from Oberlin College, the University of London and the Julliard School of Music, to cite a few When she moved to Little Rock, Hynson joined Mt. Zion Baptist Church where she served as its pianist for more than 25 years. Through her Hazel Shanks Hynson Music Studio, she presented her students in memorable piano recitals each year with as many as 20 baby grand pianos in use.

Recognized nationally for her outstanding musicianship, Hynson served as pianist for the Arkansas Baptist State Convention for 26 years and for the National Baptist Convention for 27 years. She also served a stint as pianist and choir director for Arkansas Baptist College which awarded Hynson an honorary doctorate in 1990 and named its multi-purpose building in her honor.

A charter and Golden Life member of the Little Rock Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., she was named Delta of the Year in 1992. She is also a charter member of the Little Rock chapter of The Links, Inc.

Known as a grand lady of grace and elegance, a superb teacher and pianist, arranger, composer, and musician’s musician, Hazel Shanks Hynson’s love of music has touched and shaped the lives of people across the globe.

In 2004, she was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame.  For more on Hazel Shanks Hynson and other inductees into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame, visit the permanent exhibit at the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center. That museum is an agency of the Department of Arkansas Heritage.