Zelphas Cultural Development Corporation Inc

A nonprofit organization

2 donors

As a veteran public school music teacher, Zelpha Wells was constantly approached by students who desired to learn to play the piano. The school curriculum, however, did not include instruction in applied piano.  In 1975, Mrs. Wells, who was also an accomplished concert and jazz pianist, left her secure teaching position after twenty-two years and began teaching applied piano lessons, free of charge, to economically-disadvantaged children, adults and seniors, and children with intellectual disabilities, at public housing projects and various other community centers, and  eventually at over seventeen public schools. Her efforts were incorporated in 1976 as Zelpha's Cultural Development Corporation, Inc. (ZCDC). In 1988, Mr. Moses Swaim donated a frame house which is now the Wells-Swaim Culture Center. to serve as the Program's office and practice studio.

In addition to free instruction, students receive free music books and sheet music, as well. Currently, the program serves approximately 100 students annually.

From the beginning, the program's mission has comprised a two-fold purpose: to provide students the opportunity to develop their God-given ability to play the various instruments and to emphasize the importance of developing positive character traits and good citizenship as they learn to play. Mrs. Wells desired to make the opportunity for Applied Arts instruction available to students who, because of economic disadvantage or intellectual challenge would otherwise be unable to afford the cost of private, individualized instruction. Over the years, her students have enjoyed tremendous success.

Group and individual lessons in applied piano, guitar and recorder are provided in the After-School program four times weekly throughout the school year and twice weekly during the Summer Program. The Recorder class which prepares students for woodwind instruments is taught by a retired public school band director who is able to assist students who are preparing to participate in middle and high school bands.

The After School Program provides students with a constructive alternative to less desirable activities which are so readily available. The Summer Program serves a three-fold purpose: it allows beginners to receive an intensive introduction to the piano and to music theory; it provides opportunities for remediation for students already enrolled who may need it; and, it enables advanced students to maintain and/or increase their level of proficiency over the summer months.

Participants are evaluated at the end of the regular school year and at the end of the summer program. Promotion is based upon successful mastery of pieces in a graded series of music lesson books. Students’ progress is then showcased at two recitals: a spring recital, usually held in late April and a summer recital which takes place at the culmination of the summer program.

Community leaders provide encouragement to program participants as part of the ZCDC's Mentoring Program throughout the year. Presentations by Community Mentors (representatives from the areas of education, government and other community leaders) on topics ranging from good citizenship, the importance of education and avoidance of delinquent behavior are provided.

Advanced program participants are successfully auditioning for membership in bands and choirs at the area middle and high schools where they are enrolled. Program graduates have received music scholarships to attend the following institutions: University of Michigan, Birmingham Southern College, The University of Alabama, Stillman College, the University of Montevallo and Shelton State Community College. One former student returned to the program to assist with instruction for two consecutive years. Another student recently completed graduate study in Music and has been hired by the Tuscaloosa County School System. Many other graduates are serving as church musicians and are thereby continuing to benefit the surrounding community.

In addition to Mrs. Wells, Program staff include active and retired public school music and band instructors and a Master's Level Music Performance major. Mrs. Wells thanks the Lord for almost forty years of continued growth as the Program endeavors to enrich the lives of the children of Tuscaloosa and West Alabama. Without His help, none of ZCDC's accomplishments would have been realized.

Areas Served: Tuscaloosa,  Northport, Alberta, Buhl, Holt, Tuscaloosa County, Brookwood.

Key Words: Arts, children, youth, character, Music, performance, Piano, Guitar, Recorder, After-school, Summer, Enrichment, Mentoring, Youth, Free, Instruction, Lessons, Cultural, Recitals, Diversity, Zelpha, Wells, School, bands, instruments.

Organization Data


Organization name

Zelphas Cultural Development Corporation Inc

Tax id (EIN)



Arts & Culture


PO BOX 2197