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B-CU Makes History After Winning Two Top Prizes in the 2017 James A. Hefner HBCU Piano Competition


Student Elijah Stevens Takes Top Prize in Annual Piano Competition and Receives Music Outreach Program Scholarship Award
The Department of Music at Bethune-Cookman University congratulates Elijah P. Stevens on making history by winning two top prizes in the James A. Hefner HBCU Piano Competition held on the campus of Tennessee State University. On Saturday, April 8th, Elijah competed against 4 other piano majors from Xavier and Morehouse Colleges.  He performed the “Fantasie Negre” by an African-American woman composer Florence B. Price, as well as two Preludes, Op. 23 # 5 and Op. 32, #5 by Sergei Rachmaninoff.  After a 10-year gap, Elijah brought home 1st place in the overall competition and an additional special prize for the "Best Performance of a Work written by an African-American Composer,” for B-CU. Elijah, a Freeport, Bahamas native, is currently a senior in the Department of Music, majoring in music education with a concentration in piano and has been studying piano with Dr. Rose Grace, Associate Professor of Piano for the past four years. “Mr. Stevens presented an outstanding performance and musical interpretation of his selected competition program this past weekend and was well-deserving of the honor bestowed upon him by the competition judges,” said Dr. Grace. 
Most recently, Elijah was also awarded the Music Outreach Program Committee (MOP) Scholarship Award. Several students participated, however, the committee particularly recognized the high level of preparedness and performance execution Elijah exuded during his performance. The judging panel was comprised of: Mr. Curtis Rayam, Mr. James Poitier and Dr. Michael Westmoreland.
Elijah is acknowledged as an outstanding academic student and contributor to the music department. He is an active member of the student body, participating and holding leadership positions in the following organizations: President of Club International, Eugene Zimmerman Scholarship House Resident Assistant, President of the Federation of Bahamian Students, Mr. Model United Nations, Representative for the Music Department’s Student Council, and most recently a candidate for President of the Senior Class for Student Government. 
Musically, Elijah cultivated his talents in his hometown, where he was very active in piano activities through his church and music school. As a freshman student, he was chosen to perform at the B-CU Presidential Inaugural Concert Gala in 2013 and in 2014, he received an “honorable mention” in the FSMTA Gray Perry Collegiate Piano Competition.  Most recently, Elijah represented the MOP in a solo student recital at the Riverside Presbyterian Church Concert Series in Jacksonville, Florida and was also selected by the “Negro Spiritual” Scholarship Foundation to serve as the Principal Accompanist for the World Premiere Grady-Rayam Gala. Elijah is a rising star student and talent.
For more information, contact Dr. Rose Grace Associate Professor of Piano Chair and Founder of the Music Outreach Program, 386-481-2947 or
For media inquiries, contact Ursula James, Communications Specialist, 386-481-2975 or

Office of Communications

Keisha Boyd
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About Bethune Cookman University:

Founded in 1904 by Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune, Bethune-Cookman University (B-CU) today sustains her legacy of faith, scholarship and service through its relationship with the United Methodist Church and its commitment to academic excellence and civic engagement.  B-CU offers 38 degrees on its main campus and online college. Located in Daytona Beach, B-CU is one of three private, historically black colleges in the state of Florida. The institution boasts a diverse and international faculty and student body of nearly 4,000.  For more information, visit

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