Getting to know...Christi Sellars
Wofford music instructor Christi Sellars can’t remember a day when she didn’t love music. But she can remember a time when sticking with it was in doubt.
“I’ve always loved music,” she recalls. “I remember my grandparents were the ones who encouraged my sister and I to take piano lessons. Of course, like everybody else, when you reach the age of 13 or 14 you’re ready to quit. But if you can get over that hump, you have a much better chance of sticking with it and they encouraged us to do that.”
Her life and career have been in harmony ever since. The Charleston, S.C., native came to Spartanburg to attend Converse College. When she graduated she began teaching at Spartanburg High School.
“My chorus used to do the Bill Drake Christmas Festival at Memorial Auditorium every year,” she recalls. “Vic Bilanchone was here in Wofford’s music department. I had gotten to know Vic during the planning of these events.
“I stopped teaching for several years when my children were young. One August afternoon my phone rang. The girl who had my current job quit two weeks before school started. So Vic called and asked me to work at Wofford. I took Vic up on his offer and that’s how I got here.”
That was the early 90s. When Bilanchone retired in 2000, Sellars and Gary McCraw both came on full time and have been working together ever since. They are currently working on Spring Concerts and music for a summer Chautaqua presentation for Wofford director of alumni Charlie Gray.
“We’re the musical entertainment,” she says. “We’re doing some duo piano and piano/organ work. It should be fun.”
Sellars also plays for the church choir that she directs. In fact, she says she plays in some form or fashion every day. That love of music transfers to her students.
“I knew by the time I got to high school that I wanted to do choral music,” says Sellars. “When I came to Converse I majored in music education piano performance because I knew that I wanted to teach.
“I feel a lot of my responsibility here at Wofford is to introduce music to students who haven’t had it in any other venue, and to encourage those that love it to continue. We may not have a music major here, but hopefully they will have developed a love and enjoyment of music and they will support and/or participate in music in their communities when they graduate.”
One of those students is her son, Patrick, who is a junior. Daughter Katie, 27 and class of ‘04, is married and in grad school at USC in Columbia, S.C.
Aside from music and family, Sellars is addicted to good murder mysteries. She reads John Grisham and his ilk whenever she can. When not reading, she is probably watching, American Idol.
“It’s something to talk about here at work,” she says. “Besides, I love Simon and Cara (two of the show’s four judges). They give the contestants concrete advice. I don’t care much for the ‘you made that song your own’ fluff that the other judges provide. Simon gives legitimate criticisms and suggestions that the singers can actually build on.”
That no nonsense approach works well for someone who lives on a farm. Sellars and husband Robert have cows, goats, a pig, dogs and cats at their home in Pauline.
“It’s great,” she says. “I don’t do that much around the farm, but it’s a nice escape.”
Sellars has just completed coursework at Boston University for a Doctorate in Musical Arts.