IN MEMORIAM:  Buckner Gamby’s passing has put a hole in the hearts of the many lives that he touched with his amazing talent, kind demeanor and impact on numerous musicians across the country.

by Patrick D. McCoy

Virginia State University Professor of Music Emeritus and distinguished concert pianist Buckner Gamby passed away this morning at home surrounded by his family.  His impact on many aspiring pianists, singers and music institutions is far reaching.  In his formative years, he demonstrated exceptional musical talent, as well as a great love of sacred music. As a teenager Mr. Gamby and his family moved to Boston to allow him to study piano at the New England Conservatory of Music.

An early photo of Buckner Gamby in 1945.

After graduating from Boston Latin School and a two-year tour of duty in the United States Army in Alaska, he returned to the conservatory, where he earned the bachelor and master of music degrees and the coveted Artist Diploma. He also studied as a Fulbright Scholar in Vienna, Austria, and while in Austria, the New England Conservatory awarded him the Frank Huntington Beebe fellowship for advanced music study in Europe, where he successfully debuted as an accomplished pianist.   Mr. Gamby performed all over the world, including China, Shangzhou, Europe, South Africa, and Indonesia; has been featured as a guest piano soloist; and has performed with many renowned artists and orchestras, among them Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops Orchestra.

As a church musician, he served numerous churches in Petersburg, including First Baptist Church, Zion Baptist Church, and Gillfield Baptist Church.  His career as a music professor took him to Southern University in Louisiana where he taught for four years. Among his lasting legacies was  Petersburg Boys Choir of which he was a co-founder in 1992. He was the recipient of an Outstanding Alumni Award by the New England Conservatory in 2001.

Even after he retired, he continued  to serve the university as the accompanist for the concert choir with long time colleague Johnnella Lucas Edmonds and as a part-time instructor in piano, music theory, and director of the concert choir of the Appomattox Regional Governor’s School for the Arts and Technology. Gamby  received numerous other awards and honors, and his musical genius and influence as a concert pianist, accompanist, musical coach, teacher, organist, choral director, and lecturer is a testament to his noteworthy achievements and artistic contributions.  The musical community of Petersburg and beyond mourn the loss of this great musician.

A native of Petersburg, Virginia, Patrick D. McCoy is a graduate of Virginia State University and Shenandoah Conservatory in Winchester, Virginia.  He has been an arts contributor for, CBS Washington, The Afro American Newspaper and most recently was the Performing Arts Columnist at Washington Life Magazine for four years. As a church musician, he currently serves as Organist/Choirmaster at Saint John’s Episcopal Church (Zion Parish) in Beltsville, Maryland.   Visit for all of your arts news and send press releases and ideas to  He dedicates his musical pursuits to the Glory of God, in loving memory of his mother Velma Ann McCoy-Pulley (1956-2017).