Welch, Cecil

WELCH, Cecil Cooper

World-renowned trumpeter Cecil Cooper Welch, born July 6, 1936, went home to his Lord on April 25, 2022, in Atlanta, Georgia. He is survived by his wife of 38 years, Barbara; his five children, Christopher (and Dr. Cherrie) Welch, Carey Welch, Juliet (and William) Shadle, Cooper Welch, Cullen Welch; his six grandchildren, Whitney Welch, Michael Welch, Christopher Welch, McLean Welch, Spencer Welch, John Michael Neville; one great-grandson, Dalton Dills; and his brother George Richard Welch.

Growing up in Atlanta under musically inclined parents Cooper Cecil Welch and Wanslie Sargent Welch, Cecil joined the Atlanta Pops during his teen years, and gained early experience as a freelance trumpeter in Atlanta's emerging musical community. After graduating with a business degree from Georgia Tech he pursued a lifelong career as an independent insurance agent, but furthered his skill as a professional musician, joining the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Henry Sopkin in 1960 and continuing under Robert Shaw in 1967.

In 1976, after having guest-conducted the ASO, and having heard Cecil's rousing jazz performance of "Peter Gunn," Henry Mancini, Academy Award-winning film composer, invited Cecil to join him as his lead trumpeter and soloist. Until Mancini's death in 1994, they traveled the world performing with major orchestras such as the London Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Boston Pops, Toronto Symphony, Mexico City Symphony, San Juan Symphony, Manila Symphony, and the Tokyo Philharmonic.

During his 18 years with Mancini, Cecil formed his own music production company that developed as a division of Company Welch, LLC. In addition to music and recording production, the company provided orchestral personnel for many of America's most talented performers such as Burt Bacharach, Tony Bennett, Rosemary Clooney, Natalie Cole, Perry Como, Harry Connick, Jr., Ella Fitzgerald, Josh Groban, Bob Hope, Barry Manilow, Johnny Mathis, Liza Minnelli, Joni Mitchell, Olivia Newton-John, Kenny Rogers, Usher, Dionne Warwick, Andy Williams, and Steve Lawrence with Eydie Gorme.

Company Welch provided orchestras for numerous Atlanta stage events, including the Fox Theatre's original Broadway production of Phantom of the Opera. At Chastain Park Amphitheatre, Welch orchestras regularly worked with headliner groups such as The Moody Blues, Gladys Knight and the Pips, and Earth, Wind & Fire. It was Company Welch that collaborated with Olympics entertainment planners on the 1996 Atlanta Olympics for the flag arrival in Savannah, and for full orchestra performance on Centennial Park's main stage.

Following Henry Mancini's death, Cecil and internationally-renowned pianist Mac Frampton launched the Hollywood Hills Orchestra in 1996 with a touring show tributing the career and music of Mancini. Cecil strived to continue Mancini's efforts to bolster the performing of live music and the training of young musicians in the performance and business of music. He played his last Mancini performance on tour in 2021.

As a solo trumpet artist, Cecil graced the stages in hundreds of venues, from the quaint theatres of America to the greatest concert halls the world has to offer. He personally entertained President Jimmy Carter for two birthday celebrations, and appeared as a guest performer on the Jeff Foxworthy comedy TV show, "Blue Collar Comedy." With a unique style of performance, he created an ambiance that captured the musical heart of every audience. His distinct sound could be heard on television soundtracks, radio programming, and even air in-flight stereo.

Aside from the concert stage, Cecil offered trumpet demonstrations in the educational environment, from pre-school "show-and-tell" to college master classes on career development of both the business and the performance of music. In addition to the classroom venue, he traveled the globe as a regular soloist and lecturer for the Holland America, Seabourn, and Cunard Cruise Lines.

As a recording artist, Cecil produced four solo trumpet CDs, including a tribute to the music of Henry Mancini, "Too Little Time," and a salute to the big band trumpeters of the past, "Moonlight Blues." These recordings are all under his own label, Brass Menagerie Recording Company.

In 2015 Cecil and his wife co-authored Two for the Road: the Trumpet and Me, an auto-biographical look at the building of a music career in Atlanta's mid-20th century arts community, the years of travel with Mancini, and the contributions the "master of melody" made to the film industry.

To his alma mater, the Georgia Institute of Technology, he has donated his library of musical scores gifted to him by Henry Mancini, and his personal library of big band charts, thus establishing the Henry Mancini-Cecil Welch Collection in the Georgia Tech Library Archives.

As an honor to Cecil, the family encourages donations to the Alzheimer's Association (act.alz.org).