President’s concert supports new internships

A special musical performance by Valencia’s president and singer-songwriter Sanford Shugart was held at the Garden Theater in Winter Garden. Funds raised from this event will be used to create future internships at the Garden Theater for Valencia’s performing arts students.This money will be set aside to create real job opportunities for arts and entertainment students.

“It’s just a little way to continue to weave the connection between the college and the community,” said Shugart.

This performance marked the release of Shugart’s fourth album, called “Distance We Keep,” through Valencia supported FlatFoot Records. Shugart is a busy man, overseeing more than 75,000 students and five different campuses, so live performances are indeed a rare treat for any of his fans, friends, and family. His family, Shugart adds, has a deeply rich love of musical performance and singing.

The nearly sold out 299 seat garden theater was an ideal setting for such a laid-back and intimate performance. The stage was set like a simple living room with an old worn-in couch and a small beige acoustic upright piano.

Shugart’s musical style is the purest form of classic American folk, complete with mandolin and violin accompaniments, steady, low pumping bass rhythms, and a simple and warm singing style similar to the late, great John Denver.

“I couldn’t compare him to another artist, but I can say he’s an original mix of folk, country, a little contemporary,” said Bruce Young, a financial advisor at Edward Jones and friend of Dr. Shugart.

Throughout the show there were also light hearted moments of story-telling by Dr. Shugart with what inspired certain songs. One audience member even joked during a quiet moment in one particularly emotional song, “Sandy I thought you said you weren’t going to make us cry tonight.”

Emotions truly run high in touching folk songs like “Carolina Pine” and “The Way Back Home.” And in addition to easy going songs were some upbeat tunes with funny lessons, like how the rat-race of life can turn you into a rat, or the classic southern story of the crazy uncle that taught you how to drive, shoot, and swear as a “youngin.”

Audience member and professor of English Rebecca Shevlin said, “It shows you can have your independence, your education and your talent all combined into one. And I think that’s brilliant.”

The “Garden Theater” is a historical location that was originally used to show tractors to local farmers back in the 1930s. Shugart worked with the theater over four years ago during their most recent renovations to help build the location into a functional live performance location.

Though now viewed by some as a celebration of Valencia’s Aspen Prize win and recognition of Shugart’s work, this connection with the “Garden Theater” and Valencia has been ongoing for several years. It’s further strengthened by the plans for new internship opportunities for Valencia arts and entertainment students.

More information about this and future events can be found at the Garden Theater’s web site at And Sandy Shugart’s music can be found on iTunes and

Shugart stated that he feels strong for the arts and entertainment program at Valencia. Being a musical performer himself he is continually inspired by the hard work and continued success of the student body at Valencia.