Shenandoahans have a rich and unusual musical tradition.
The city boasted a fine opera house, built in 1881, and Western Normal College offered a degree in music in 1889. Shenandoah schools also offered fine vocal and instrumental music programs. City bands, fife and drum corps, and chamber music groups flourished at the turn of the century.
A large number of accomplished musicians, many from the waning vaudeville circuit, came to Shenandoah to work for the new radio stations in the 1920's. Many settled permanently in Shenandoah, adding their talents to the local music scene.
Charlie Haden, a respected jazz bass player, was one of Shenandoah's radio entertainers who went on to greater fame. The Blackwood Brothers Gospel Quartet, winners of nine Grammy Awards, began their career on KMA radio in 1940 and toured much of the Midwest with their down-home Christian music. The famous Everly Brothers, Don and Phil, started their musical careers on KMA in 1945. Appearing with their parents on the daily "Everly Family" show, the boys became seasoned performers at an early age. Willie Leacox, the original and longtime drummer of the rock band America is another Shenandoah success story.
The Shenandoah Music Association, organized in 1947, provides diversity in music by bringing symphony orchestras, bands, ballets, opera, string quartets, and other events to town. Today, audiences enjoy concert pianists playing the seven-foot Steinway grand piano donated by former residents Bruce Stevens, president of the Steinway Company, and his sister, Barbara Stevens Bock. The Shenandoah Music Association hosts four concerts each year.