Delores Hodgens Howard
Hodgens' family moved to Bessemer, and then Fairfield when she was young. She studied piano from childhood and was invited by another young performer, organist Sam Howard, to accompany him on piano at Fairfield First Baptist Church. They were students together at Birmingham-Southern College.
Hodgens performed Franz Liszt's "Hungarian Rhapsody No. 12" for the talent portion of the Miss Alabama pageant and went on to finish as a semifinalist in the 1962 Miss America pageant in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Judges Joan Crawford and David Merrick were particularly impressed by her performance and kept in touch with her over the years.
Afterward Hodgens and Howard were married. They continued to study together with Rosina Lhevinne, at the Juilliard School in New York and with Ilona Kabos in London, England. As a performing duo, the Howards won a Rockefeller Foundation grant in 1964 to tour Europe. The series was highly successful, and the foundation financed a second tour in 1966. They joined the faculty of their alma mater after that, but continued to perform across the United States.
In 1976 Soulima Stravinksy, son of composer Igor Stravinsky, visited their home and taught them his father's original four-handed piano arrangement for "The Rite of Spring", which they went on to perform at Carnegie Hall and a third tour of Europe. In 1982 they moved from Birmingham-Southern to UAB as artists in residence. During their years of teaching they tutored several notable performers including Ken Watson and Nancy McDill. They were close friends with pianist Van Cliburn and helped arrange for him to open the BJCC Concert Hall.
The Howards retired from teaching in 2002 and became active members of Independent Presbyterian Church. Delores Howard died at Trinity Medical Center in 2014. She was survived by her husband and daughter, Hilary.
- Eagle, Leah Ingram (November 17, 2014) "Miss Alabama 1961 toured the world as a classical pianist." The Birmingham News