Janet Bass Smith


January 11, 1936 – December 1, 2020

Janet Lucille (Bass) Smith, DMA, age 84, passed away December 1, 2020, in Bowling Green, KY. She was born on January 11, 1936, in Cheyenne, Wyoming, the daughter of Ellwood Aven Bass and Clara Anna Bass (née Hahn). 

Janet received her Bachelors of Music degree (piano, organ, and theory) from the University of Wyoming, her Master of Music in Piano Performance from the University of North Carolina-Greensboro, and the Doctor of Musical Arts in Piano Performance from the University of Missouri—Kansas City, Conservatory of Music. She also studied piano and organ at the Juilliard School of Music, New York City, and the Eastman School of Music, Rochester, NY. She was a professor of music at the University of North Carolina—Greensboro, Livingstone College in North Carolina, and at Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau. She organized and was the first Director of the Pre-College Music Program at Southeast Missouri State University. She was a founding member of Orchestra Kentucky, the professional orchestra in Bowling Green, where she was principal pianist for several years. She served as President of the Board of Directors, and Chair of many committees. She continued to write program notes for the concerts until 2020-2021 season. Janet was a pianist, organist, teacher, prize-winning painter, poet, and caver, winning awards in all of those areas. She began studying piano at the age of five and organ at age eleven, and began teaching piano, organ, and music theory when she was sixteen. She continued teaching piano and theory in her home until her death. She was organist for churches of all denominations throughout her life, and also presented several solo organ recitals. Janet performed alone and with her husband, Charles, in cities in Europe and the United States, and also inside Mammoth Cave. One memorable collaborative recital was with German Cellist, Klaus Kaemper, inside Mammoth Cave in 2008. She performed solo concerti with orchestras at the University of Wyoming, Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau, Western Kentucky University, and Orchestra Kentucky in Bowling Green, KY. She also performed with an orchestra in St. Petersburg, Russia. Janet won many awards for her music performances, and her poetry and art works, (acrylic and oil painting, and mixed-media using materials from nature.) She also received awards from Mammoth Cave National Park, where she worked as a seasonal park ranger from 1993 to 2015. She loved the cave, and enjoyed showing it to visitors, friends, and family. She also was asked many times to perform as a pianist inside the cave, and at the Visitor’s Center and Hotel.  

Janet and Charles were married for almost 62 years, and enjoyed spending time together in music performances, and in camping and fishing trips. Janet also enjoyed spending time with her family, friends, and students. 

Among her many awards are the following: Mammoth Cave National Park Arrow Head Excellence Award: Park Ranger from 1993 to 2015.WKU Kentucky Library Art Show Third Place, Amateur Mixed Media, 2016.Mammoth Cave National Park Ole Bull Music Award 2014.Mammoth Cave National Park Ed Bishop Award for Research, 2012.Bowling Green Chamber Orchestra Conductor’s Award, 2006 for outstanding volunteer service.Kentucky Colonel, appointed 2004.KMTA Distinguished Service Award, 2000.KMTA Teacher of the Year, 2000.Ohio Valley Writers’ Guild Regional Poetry Contest, First Prize for poem (cash award), 1999.Trans-Financial Bank Regional Fine Art Show, Third Place for Oil on Canvas painting, 1991.Master Craftsman and Dorothy A. Stubbs Charitable Trust Cash Awards, Women’s Council and office of Graduate Studies, University of Missouri-Kansas City, 1986.Tuition Scholarship, Orff Workshop, UNC-Greensboro, 1974.Graduate Teaching Assistantship, UNC-Greensboro, 1970-72.Pi Kappa Lambda, National Music Scholarship Honorary, 1972.Phi Kappa Phi, National Scholastic Honorary, 1957.Music Honor Book, Outstanding Senior in Music, University of Wyoming, 1957.Cash Award from P.E.O. Sisterhood for high scholastic standing and achievement in music. 1957.Cash Award for Outstanding Senior in Music, Wyoming Federation of Music Clubs, 1955 and 1957.Theodore Presser Foundation Scholarship for outstanding achievement in music, 1954.