Blair Community Mourns Loss of
Tommy Scott Young
Tommy Scott Young, a multi-talented individual who excelled in various fields including storytelling, poetry, playwriting, authorship, production, teaching, and sculpture, has sadly passed away at the age of 79. He was born in Blair, South Carolina as the son of Nancy Lee Thompson Young and John Robert (Rice) Young.
Tommy Scott Young was a storyteller-in-residence at the Lincoln Center Institute in New York City, where he entertained and educated hundreds of individuals through his performances and teachings.
He is well-known in South Carolina for founding and directing the Kitani Foundation, which brought nationally acclaimed performing artists to the state from 1977 to 1983.
The foundation's goal was to enable school children in South Carolina to see nationally known artists and to promote outstanding performing artists in the state. Mr. Young successfully brought over 25 national performing artists and groups to South Carolina, including Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, The Feld Ballet, A Chorus Line, The Jung Su Song and Dance Troupe of Nanking, China, and the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre. These performances reached tens of thousands of students and the general public. Additionally, the Kitani Foundation encouraged young people's creativity through an annual children's poster contest and calendar featuring drawings and poetry. The foundation also founded Mayfest and the Artist-in-Schools Program for Richland County School District I. Notably, the foundation was recognized for its outstanding contributions to the arts in South Carolina, receiving the South Carolina Arts Commission's prestigious Elizabeth O'Neill Verner Award in 1979.
At a young age, Tommy Scott became a member of Gethsemane Baptist Church in Blair. During his time in Los Angeles, California, he participated in the choir at Holman Methodist Church. Upon returning to South Carolina, he played a significant role in founding the Christ Unity Church of Columbia.
Tommy Scott's educational journey included attending Gethsemane Elementary School, McCrorey Liston High School, and St. Emma Military Academy in Virginia. After serving in the United States Air Force, he enrolled at Benedict College for two years before transferring to California State University in Los Angeles. There, he obtained his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Fine Art and Theater. Tommy continued his education by pursuing graduate work in sculpting.
While in Los Angeles, he received training from renowned actors such as Kathleen Freeman and Yaphet Koto. He also collaborated with the Watts Writers Workshop and mentored Roger Mosely. One of his notable works, the play Angela, was written and produced in partnership with Angela Davis, Jane Fonda, and Quincy Jones. In addition, he worked with Jester Hairston, a star of the TV show Amen, to enhance his piano skills. He performed classical, traditional, and modern storytelling as an artist-in-residence for various arts councils and commissions across the United States, including North Carolina, Georgia, and South Carolina. He taught at esteemed institutions like the University of Southern California, UCLA, and Benedict College. In 1988, he toured the United Kingdom as a guest of Her Majesty’s Eastern Arts Council, performing in numerous hamlets, towns, and cities.
Books written by this gifted author include Tommy Scott Young Spins Magical Tales and Black Blues and Shiny Songs (poetry).
Tommy Scott was very proud of his son, Lee Thompson Young, who pursued a career in storytelling and theater. Lee gained fame through his lead role as Jett Jackson on the Disney Channel's show, "The Famous Jett Jackson," and also appeared in other popular TV shows and movies like "Friday Night Lights," "Akeelah and the Bee," and "Rizzoli and Isles." Tommy Scott believed that by sharing his talents, Lee was able to positively impact the lives of others.