By Shannon Thomason
The Southeast Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences has inducted University of Alabama at Birmingham University Professor of Music Henry Panion III, Ph.D., into its illustrious Silver Circle.
The NATAS Silver and Gold circles are elite honor societies, according to a statement from the academy. The Silver Circle is composed of those unique professionals who have dedicated at least 25 years to television excellence.
“Television has changed; but it is built on the bedrock of those rare individuals who have dedicated a significant portion of their lives to leading, innovating and advancing the important role television plays in service to our communities,” the NATAS statement to Panion read.
Panion teaches in the College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Music. A producer, composer, arranger, orchestrator, conductor and educator, Panion’s experiences span the musical spectrum, from gospel and classical to pop, rock, hip-hop, be-bop and everything in between.
He has worked with superstars Stevie Wonder, Lionel Richie, Aretha Franklin and Chaka Khan; jazz luminaries Ellis Marsalis, Jonathan Butler and the Lionel Hampton Orchestra; gospel legends the Winans, Kirk Franklin, The Clark Sisters and Yolanda Adams; “American Idol” winners Carrie Underwood and Ruben Studdard; hip-hop artists Coolio and Nelly; and more than 50 different symphony orchestras all across the globe, from Japan’s Tokyo Philharmonic to London’s Royal Philharmonic and Sweden’s Gothenburg Symphony .
“The award is based on a lifetime of work I contributed to the TV broadcast industry,” Panion said. “It’s not just the amount of work but what they judge as significant work.”
Panion’s television credits include:
- “Gospel Goes Classical” in 2006, for which he was producer, conductor, arranger, composer and orchestrator — the first recording to sit atop both the Classical Crossover and Gospel Billboard charts simultaneously.
- BET’s Centric “Salute to Selma” for a crowd of an estimated 100,000 people, in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday in Selma, for which he was associate producer, conductor and arranger.
- “Dreams of Hope,” directed by Panion and filmmaker David Macon, for which Panion won 2021 Southeast Emmy Awards for Best Musical Composition/Arrangement for his piece “Dreams of Hope for Solo Violin & Orchestra,” commissioned especially for this concert. “Dreams of Hope” has been recognized and honored with film and movie awards, including an unprecedented feat of winning 13 Telly Awards.
- Panion conducted “This Train: A Soulful Alabama Musical & Theatrical Celebration,” filmed at The Lyric in Birmingham, and aired on PBS.
- Artistic director for The World Games 2022 opening and closing ceremonies, broadcast in over 100 countries, for which he oversaw the creative production in areas including audio, orchestration, visuals, dance and drama, among others.
- Music videos and arranging and conducting for artists and shows such as the “Soul Train” Music Awards, the Billboard Music Awards, the World Music Awards in Monte Carlo, TV specials he wrote for artists such as Peter Nero and the Philly Pops, and the Atlanta Symphony’s Christmas special for five years straight.