top of page
african-american adults in a business meeting.jpg

Billy Harden


Excerpted from the an article in the Austin American-Statesman

written by Alberta Phillips |

"Billy Harden was an Austin treasure. 

"Not just because he was a towering figure in the African-American community, but because Billy — who I knew for over 25 years — was a mover and shaker in Austin’s arts and education communities.

"His reach was long, from Metropolitan AME Church in Austin, where he served in many positions over decades, including choir and music director to Hollywood through his lifelong friendship with actor Julius Tennon and in recent years, Tennon’s wife and business partner, Academy-award winning actor Viola Davis.

"Aside from removing obstacles — and stereotypes of what a lead in theater performances should look, sound or be shaped like — Billy’s efforts went a long way in helping black performers land paying jobs in mainstream performances, so they could carve out a living locally.

"In 2013, continuing to build on Vance’s legacy, Harden co-founded Spectrum, Austin’s leading African-American theater company, with stage veterans Jacqui Cross, Janis Stinson and Carla Nickerson. Tennon and Davis – members of Spectrum’s advisory board — helped get it off the ground.

"Austin is fortunate that Harden’s legacy will continue through the Dr. Billy F. Harden Legacy Fund, which aims to inspire and nurture another generation of talent, as well as support today’s local actors who strive to enlighten, entertain and challenge the Austin community through the arts. "


Phillips, A. (2018, April 17).  Phillips: Billy Harden opened doors and brought passion to the stage.  Austin American-Statesman.

bottom of page