Blacksburg Breakfast Lions Club

The three Montgomery County Lions Clubs

(Blacksburg Breakfast Lions, Christiansburg Lions and Blacksburg Host Lions) honored the James A Bland Music Competition winners for 2017 on Monday evening, February 13.  The competition was held at Blacksburg Baptist Church;. The first and second place winners received a cash prize. The judges for the competition were Philip O. Paglialonga (Virginia Tech), Kwan Yi (Radford University), Youngmi Kim (Radford University), and Marlayna Maynard (Radford University).  Perhaps the most valuable service to the contestants is the judges' detailed written and oral evaluations of the performances.  The audience is given a gift, as well: hearing beautiful music performed by New River Valley's talented youth!

Pictured left to right are : Ansley Sara Melton, first place, Vocalist; Brandon Fan, first place, Instrumentalist; Lily Zhu, third place, Instrumentalist; Kevin Xu, second place, Instrumentalist, and Lion Doug Kanney, Past President of the Christiansburg Lions club, who was Master of Ceremonies.

The Bland Contest, sponsored by Lions of Virginia, is an opportunity for musically talented youth to compete locally and state-wide.  The winners of the state contest, held during the Lions' state convention in May of each year, receive substantial scholarships.  The contest is named for James A. Bland, a talented and internationally popular African American composer from Virginia who flourished during the 1880's.  For more information, go to

With the simple motto of " We Serve "


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Lions Clubs International is the largest service organization in the world. Since 1917, Lions have been meeting the needs of local communities and the world. Currently, 1.4 million men and women in 210 countries and geographic areas conduct vision and health screenings, build parks, support eye hospitals, award scholarships, assist youth, provide help in time of disaster, and much more.

The goal of the Lions of Virginia Bland Music Scholarship Foundation, Inc. (Bland Foundation) is to promote cultural and educational opportunities for musically talented young people in Virginia (primarily of high school age). This goal is achieved through progressive music competitions beginning in February at the local Lions club level, and culminating in a state competition in which twelve (12) finalists from the six (6) Lions Districts in Virginia compete during the State Convention in May. The Bland Foundation oversees these competitions, and also provides music scholarships to the top twelve finalists. The scholarships must be used for college tuition, music lessons, summer music programs or other music education endeavors. This program has been providing scholarships to gifted music students, both vocal and instrumental, since 1948. As tuition and lessons are extremely expensive, the Bland Foundation provides needed assistance to these talented, hard-working music students and their families.

Many of the scholarship winners in the program, upon graduation from high school, have been accepted into the top music schools, conservatories and colleges in the United States. Finalists from the 2015-2016 state contests have enrolled in the Peabody Conservatory of Music of the John Hopkins University, the Juilliard School of Music, Oberlin School of Music, Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University, Columbia University, Manhattan School of Music, Carnegie Mellon Musical Theater Program, Yale University and the Earl V. Moore School of Music at the University of Michigan and Princeton.

The purpose of the Lions of Virginia Music Scholarship Foundation, Inc. is to provide a living memorial to James A. Bland, an African-American who was a popular composer in the late 1800's. In 1940, the Lions of Virginia were instrumental in having Bland's composition, Carry Me Back To Old Virginia, adopted as the official state song. In 1948 they established the Bland competition to honor this prolific writer of America. Carry Me Back To Old Virginia is now the state song emeritus, but the Lions of Virginia still honor James Allen Bland and his place in American musical history through this successful, well-established program for encouraging and supporting musically gifted youth in Virginia.