Regina Allen Walker, co-founder of Livingston Parish Children’s Choirs and community leader, was awarded the inaugural Women’s Leadership Award.
The award was presented at the Livingston Parish Chamber of Commerce Women’s Leadership Special Event.
Walker noted she had been recognized in the music and art industry for her work and contributions but this was the first time she was acknowledged with a community award.
She has been honored with the Governor’s Lifetime Achievement in the Arts Award, Arts Council of Denham Springs Hall of Fame and Baton Rouge Music Teachers Association Educator of the Year.
She received her bachelor of music education and master of piano degrees from LSU.
At the Sept. 13 presentation, with 175 people in the audience, when asked if she would like to say a few words, she said, “Well, you know I do!”
She accepted the award and acknowledged the collaborations to bring the success of the choirs. She also let the crowd know of upcoming performances.
After the event, Walker shared some of her life story.
She and her husband, Ed, lived on an Apache Indian reservation in San Carlos, Arizona, for two years. Their first child was born on the reservation. However, Walker’s father owned an airplane and flew to Arizona to persuade them to come home to Denham Springs.
Walker said her father taught her to fly at 15 and the landing strip was a cow pasture. She completed her pilot licensing requirements in Baton Rouge.
In 1959, she started teaching piano and started a girls choir.
She was able to get what is now known as Parks and Recreation of Denham Springs to purchase equipment to begin a boys choir for second grade up to the time when their voices changed. Her charter choir had 40 boys, including former Denham Springs Mayor Jimmy Durbin and Supreme Court Judge Jeff Hughes.
The boys’ initial performance was in Biloxi for the Kiwanis Club. The president of the international club happened to be in attendance and invited the choir to perform for the International Kiwanis Convention in Atlantic City in 1963.
Walker's daughter prompted her to start the Livingston Parish Children’s Choir, which has since performed in Washington, D.C., Austria and England.
Her daughter, Barbara, is the primary instructor, but Walker does attend performances and assists in ticket sales and sponsorships.
When asked how many students she has taught, Walker said, “You know, I do not know,” but recalls when there were several choirs at one time and that typically there are 100 students.
Livingston Parish Children's Choirs board President Shannon Bernard said, "We are thrilled to see Mrs. Regina recognized for her leadership. She has had an impact on many in our parish and is deserving of this honor. She was surprised to receive the award, making it an even more impactful acknowledgment."
April Wehrs, president of the Livingston Parish Chamber, said “the work and positive recognition that has been brought to the area by Mrs. Regina Walker made her an excellent choice for the award. We were proud to announce her as the winner and to acknowledge her life’s love of music, Denham Springs, Livingston Parish and the state."
For information on the Women’s Leadership Award for Livingston Parish, contact the chamber at (225) 665-8155.