HARRISON, Brucene Harris, daughter, wife, mother, sister, aunt, and friend, passed away peacefully on June 9, 2022. She was 89. Born in Helena, Arkansas, November 12, 1932 to Mildred Winnetta Bruce (Arthur Algernon Bruce and Blanche Bruce) and Robert Earl Harris (James Henry Harris and Rose Ella Brown).
Brucene loved music from the time she was a little girl and began studying piano at age 7 and dance lessons at age 4. Her parents moved to Cotton Plant, Arkansas when she was 10, where her Father started his second dry-goods merchandise store. Performing in dance and piano recitals, plays and musicals through high school and college, she once played the role of Portia in Julius Caesar.
Brucene excelled in academics, graduating as Valedictorian, where she had three best friends who remained close for life. She was also a cheerleader, basketball player, and accompanist and singer for the Glee Club and in various small groups for civic clubs. Upon entering Arkansas College (Lyon College), she declared her major in Music and minor in French and was selected Class Beauty. She moved to Memphis, TN with her parents and graduated with a B.A. in Music from Memphis State University (UofM) while working in college for Orgill Brothers of Memphis, Memphis’s oldest firm, and was selected to be Miss Orgill Brothers. Invited by Violinist and Conductor Noel A. Gilbert to be the pianist of the Memphis University Orchestra and Memphis Concert Orchestra, Brucene performed Mozart’s Concerto K488 in A Major and other pieces at the Levitt Shell, and later taught Music and English in Shelby County schools.
She married her husband, Shelton Harrison in 1960 and relocated to Nashville. Mr. Harrison was General Sales Manager at a car dealership in Nashville, then purchased a car dealership where they also organized music events. Brucene taught in Davidson County schools and served as choir director for a Methodist Church for nine years. Returning to Memphis to care for their parents, the Harrisons built a dealership and purchased two other others and were the sole-owners of all of the dealerships.
Together, Brucene and Shelton planned and decorated the 40,000 square foot-plus building with an amphitheater, where Shelton booked hundreds of top-name artists and bands to perform and provided many up-and-coming artists their first performance opportunities. They promoted hundreds of concerts at the Mid-South Coliseum, the Orpheum, and throughout the mid-south for artists, including Dottie West, Loretta Lynn, Conway Twitty, Floyd Cramer, Charley Pride, Tom T. Hall and many more with whom they remained friends.
They established the Shelton and Brucene Harrison perpetual scholarship at University of Memphis and were members of Christ United Methodist Church, at which time Brucene composed a song for her children, When God Did Children Make. Sung by the 5th grade children at the day school, her dear friend Doris Smith selected it as the first Christ Methodist Day School Theme Song. The song was recorded and sheet music published by her daughter in 2010, and an instrumental recording made available in 2020 with cover-art once a postcard drawn by her son when he was a little boy.
In 2004, Brucene wrote and published a book, The Book of Goodbye, which includes poems written for her son, Summer’s End, and for her daughter, First Day of School, and described as “a masterful collection of parting quotations from thinkers, poets and lovers throughout the ages. Shakespeare, Dickens, Milton, Coleridge — they’re all here, along with many other favorite authors.”
In 2020, she and her daughter collaborated on a holiday album and released a single-song with Brucene (piano) and Camille (vocals), In the Bleak Midwinter in time for the holiday that included several other wonderful musicians. In 2021, they released the eight song album, Christmas with You, which included songs they had co-written, such as Christmas Dreams Come True. She had also begun discussions to record with her son (Shelley).
In recent years, Brucene enjoyed singing in a church choir and loved making new friends. She will be remembered for her warm and beautiful smile, her faithfulness and caring for others, her goals of excellence and bringing out the best in people, and her love of music and expressive musicianship. Brucene made the world a more beautiful place. Preceded in passing is her husband, Shelton, parents Mildred and Robert Earl, Gerald and Everett Wheeler, and she is survived by daughter, Camille; son, Shelley; Bobbye (Ed); Lynn Wheeler, Irma Sanders, and many other loving family and friends. To celebrate Brucene’s life, the family asks that memorials be made to a charity of donor’s choice. Private services were held. She is buried with her husband at Williamson Memorial Cemetery, Franklin, TN.