B i o g r a p h y
Henry Panion, III, PhD, holds degrees in music education and music theory from Alabama A & M University and the Ohio State University, respectively, and serves as Director of the Music Technology Program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He is most known for his work as conductor and arranger for superstar Stevie Wonder, for whose performances and recordings he has led many of the world’s most notable orchestras, including the Royal Philharmonic, the Bolshoi Theater Orchestra, the Birmingham (England) Symphony, the Orchestra of Paris, the Melbourne (Australia) Symphony, the Rio de Janeiro Philharmonic, the Ra’anana Philharmonic, the Nice Symphony, the Gothenburg Symphony, and the Boston Pops Orchestra. The two-CD set Natural Wonder features Dr. Panion conducting his arrangements of many of Stevie Wonder’s award-winning, chart-topping songs with Stevie and the Tokyo Philharmonic.
The creative force behind Gospel Goes Classical featuring Juanita Bynum, Jonathan Butler, and the GGC Symphony Orchestra and Choir, Dr. Panion made history topping the Billboard charts on both the Gospel and Classical Crossover Charts simultaneously. Other artists for whom Dr. Panion has had the opportunity to conduct and/or arrange include Aretha Franklin, Lionel Richie, The Winans, Yolanda Adams, Lady Tramaine Hawkins, Eugenia Zuckerman, Chet Atkins, The Clark Sisters, Ellis Marsalis, ALABAMA, The Blind Boys of Alabama, Chaka Khan, Kirk Franklin, the Lionel Hampton Orchestra, Kelly Price, India Arie, Robin Thicke, Tony Toni Tone, LeAnn Rimes, Bootsy Collins and American Idol winners Carrie Underwood, Taylor Hicks, and Ruben Studdard.
Dr. Panion’s own works are programmed throughout the United States by many of this country’s major orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic, Atlanta Symphony, Cincinnati Pops, Cleveland Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, Detroit Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, San Francisco Symphony, Nashville Symphony, Houston Symphony, and the National Symphony. A select list of other orchestras performing Dr. Panion’s works includes San Antonio, Nova Scotia, Columbus, Charlotte, San Diego, Louisville, North Carolina, Indianapolis, Arkansas, Jacksonville, Greensboro, Alabama, and the former Birmingham Metropolitan Orchestra, for which he served as Music Director from 1995-1997.
During the 50th Anniversary of Selma’s Bloody Sunday in 2015, Dr. Panion served as Artistic Producer & Conductor for the BET/Centric TV Special. In 2019 he concluded the City of Birmingham’s three-year commemoration of the State of Alabama’s Bicentennial, in which he served as chair. The 2020 PBS concert-documentary Dreams of Hope: Birmingham’s Historic 16th Street Baptist Church Welcomes Violins of Hope was produced by Dr. Panion and has been broadcast repeatedly over 1000 times on PBS stations across America; received an unprecedented 13 Telly Awards; and has won in prestigious film festivals domestically and abroad in cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Miami, London, Paris, Amsterdam, Jerusalem, and Sydney. In 2021 Dreams of Hope picked up 2 EMMYs for Music Composition and Audio Post Production.
As a producer, composer, arranger, and orchestrator, Dr. Panion’s work has produced three Grammy Awards, two Dove Awards, and a host of other national music awards and nominations. From 1994 to 2000, Dr. Panion served as chair of the Department of Music at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He also serves as President and CEO of Audiostate 55 Recording Studios & Entertainment Company. Other honors include a 1995 Distinguished Alumni Award from Alabama A & M University and a 1996 Distinguished Alumni of the Year Award from the Ohio State University. He is the 1996 recipient of the Caroline P. and Charles W. Ireland Award for Scholarly Distinction and the 2009 recipient of the Congressional Black Caucus' Civic and Cultural Advancement Award. Dr. Panion was inducted into the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame in 1995, the Alabama A & M University Hall of Fame in 2000, the Alabama Arts Hall of Fame in 2019, and the Alabama Music Hall of Fame in 2023.
The University of Alabama System Board of Trustees has honored Dr. Panion for his many contributions to the field of music by bestowing upon him the distinguished appointment of University Professor. In 2009, Dr. Panion was appointed to the post of Cultural Ambassador for the City of Birmingham, AL, and in 2013 he received the Drum Major for Justice Award from the SCLC/W.O.M.E.N, Inc. Dr. Panion serves on the Berklee College of Music’s BCMN Advisory Board and was recently re-appointed by the Governor of Alabama to the Alabama State Council on the Arts where he serves as Board Chairman. Current posts also include appointments to the boards of the Southeast Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (The Emmy’s) and the Robert Moog Foundation. Most recently, Dr. Panion served as Artistic Director, Composer, and Orchestra Conductor of The World Games 2022. Commissioned to compose its new theme music and all original music, Dr. Panion designed and produced the creative presentation for the EMMY-nominated Opening & Closing Ceremonies, with a viewership of over 250 million people in 100 plus countries.
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