On October 17, 1970 fourteen voice teachers under the guidance of Ruth Stewart petitioned to form a Houston chapter of the National Associate of Singers. Those teachers were:
- Ruth Stewart (Texas Southern University)
- Ruthabel Rollins (Texas Southern University)
- Virginbia Babikian (Houston Baptist
- University/later Rice University)
- John Druary (University of Houston)
- Diane Tobola (University of St. Thomas)
- Janice Robbins (San Jacinto College Central)
- Robert Henry (Prairie View A and M)
- June Cason (private voice and adjunct San Jacinto College Central)
- Kaye Smith
- Lucille Welch
- Jeanice Hobart
- Elaine Hall
- Ruth Schmoll (Texas Southern University)
and two others whose signatures are not legible on the original document obtained from the National office.
On November 6, 1970 the petition was approved by the National Board of Directors and the charter issued. At that time Karl Trump was the president of NATS organization and Bruce Lunkley was the Texas representative. The framed charter was sent to John Druary.
There was a small, but prestigious group of teachers who created the chapter and represented most of the vocal training in the Houston area. (the chapter was originated to serve universities, colleges, and private teachers within a hundred mile radius of Houston) Ruth Stewart was the instigator and leader of our chapter. It has been suggested that she wanted the creation of the chapter in order to be able to send students to the Regional Auditions. Auditions and master classes were immediately initiated. At that time, various churches and schools were used for competitions and master classes. Our chapter had some very prestigious names that came and provided master classes, including Bertin Coffin, Phyllis Curtin, Ralph Appleman, to name a few. Board meetings and some chapter meetings were held in homes, and the chapter auditions followed the rules set forth by the Regional Texas NATS, which at the time included Louisiana and Arkansas.
Originally the chapter had no by-laws. We just did what, when, and how Ruth Stewart told us to do. The chapter grew and our outreach extended to schools and private teachers not in the original group. After several years, and during Janice Robbins’ tenure as president, Judith Carman and Janice decided that the chapter needed some structure, so they began drawing up a document to provide some statement as to the chapter’s goals and by-laws to govern the chapter. The document was written in 1979, and created the officers positions the chapter needed and their specific duties, as well as the rules for the competition.
The chapter continued to thrive and grow, and made changes when needed in order to become more functional. Originally, members of the chapter were not allowed to judge in the Spring Auditions. Only outside judges from the area were used. As president, Janice Robbins had to obtain qualified judges for several years, which proved to be a very difficult task. Finally, the chapter was able to eliminate that problem and allow chapter members to judge.
Previous presidents of the Greater Houston chapter include: Ruth Stewart, Ruthabel Rollins, John Druary, Eugene Talley-Schmidt, Bernadine Oliphint, Jeanette Lombard, Stephen Smith, Judith Carman, Beverly Laubach, Jeanette Chase, Christopher Michel, Marion Russell Dickson, Jason Lester, and Debra Greschner.
The current chapter has far exceeded anything the original group could have imagined. My hope is that the history of the chapter from this point forward will continue to be documented as we honor our chapter’s heritage.