From the Bahamas to Maryville: LaKwan Bain thrives as musician at MC

From the Bahamas to Maryville: LaKwan Bain ’19 thrives as musician at MC 

Feb. 13, 2019 

When LaKwan Bain ’19 was initially looking at Maryville College, several things stood out.

The Nassau, Bahamas native was attracted to the East Tennessee area, which is very different from the archipelago he was used to.

But the music major and talented pianist knew he had found the right fit after meeting the music faculty at Maryville College. A former instructor of his in the Bahamas, Dr. Christy Lee, started teaching music at Maryville College and encouraged him to audition for a music scholarship at the College.

When he met the faculty, “we just clicked for some reason,” he said, adding that they “offered a range of opportunities and … possibilities that I could study, which would all work together to mold me into the musician that I am.”

Now in his senior year at Maryville College, Bain will present a recital on Feb. 21, as part of his Senior Study and a capstone to his music education at MC. The performance will include three different musical genres which Bain says have become the basis of his perspective on musical interpretation: jazz piano, classic piano and pipe organ.

His senior recital, which will begin at 6 p.m. in the Clayton Center for the Arts’ Harold and Jean Lambert Recital Hall, is free and open to the public. A reception will follow the concert.

The program will include the following selections: “Piano Sonata No. 8 in C Minor Op. 13” by Ludwig van Beethoven; “Andante and Rondo Capriccioso Op. 14” by Felix Mendelssohn; “You’re My Everything” by Harry Warren; “Spain” by Chick Corea; “Prelude and Fugue in E Flat Major BWV 552” by Johann Sebastian Bach; and “Toccata from Symphony No. 5 in F Minor Op. 42 No. 1” by Charles-Marie Jean Albert Widor.

“This selection of works is important to me because it encapsulates a few of the different musical stylings that have influenced and shaped me as a musician,” Bain said.

Growing up in a musical family, Bain said was inspired by various musical influences, including his father, who was a musician, as well as American organist Diane Bish and gospel producer Mike Bereal, but “because I have a whole lot of ways that I express myself through music … from jazz and gospel to classical and traditional music, it’s hard to pinpoint a few names,” Bain said.

At Maryville College, Bain has had the opportunity to study piano under Rachel Acuff, organ under Ashley Burrell and jazz improv under Dr. Bill Swann, who is also Bain’s advisor.

“LaKwan has been here at MC for almost three years now and has proven to be one of the most dedicated and hard-working students we’ve had,” Swann said. “He studies classical piano, organ and improvisation – and excels at all of them, due to his work ethic and his talent. He is generous with this talent and performs frequently on student programs. In short, he pursues music with rigor and passion, and it shows in his performances.”

Bain, who plans to return to the Bahamas after graduating from Maryville College this May, said his MC music professors have prepared him for different realms of music – some things that were in the curriculum and others that were not – and he owes “a debt of gratitude to them for allowing themselves to become a resource” to him.

“I think the biggest takeaway from the time spent at Maryville College is that I can never be boxed in, there is an entire universe out there, and I have a lot more options than I think I do,” he said. “A lot of us have such a narrow viewpoint … a narrow sight, and we fail to realize that there is more to this world than that which meets the eye.” 

Story written by Jeremy Law ‘19


Maryville College is ideally situated in Maryville, Tenn., between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Knoxville, the state's third largest city. Founded in 1819, it is the 12th oldest institution of higher learning in the South and maintains an affiliation with the Presbyterian Church (USA). Known for offering its students a rigorous and highly personal experience that includes an undergraduate research requirement, Maryville College is a nationally ranked institution of higher learning that successfully joins the liberal arts and professional preparation. Total enrollment for the Fall 2018 semester is 1,154.