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Inquirer Friend and Atlanta Icon Azira G. Hill Celebrates 100 Years – Azira Gonzalez Hill

Azira Gonzalez Hill

Born in Cuba, Azira Gonzalez Hill came to the United States to attend Boyland Haven boarding school in Jacksonville, Florida. She later attended Bethune-Cookman College and Grady Memorial Hospital School of Nursing. While at Grady, she worked as a staff nurse and clinical instructor. It was during her years at Grady that she met her husband of fifty-seven years, Jesse Hill, Jr. They married in 1955 in Holguin, Cuba.

A lover of music, inspired by her large musical family in Cuba, Azira Hill was energized to volunteer at the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (ASO). Azira and Jesse Hill’s shared passion for activism and expanding opportunities for underrepresented groups naturally led to a vision to enrich and empower lives via the world of classical music and music education. After becoming a member of the Atlanta Symphony Associates (ASA), she became an Atlanta Symphony Board member. From that engagement grew the vision to establish a program to ‘change the face of the symphony orchestra,’ and The Action Committee for Audience Development in the Black Community was formed.

In September of 1993, she, Mary Gramling, and other members of the Atlanta community of all ethnicities selected ten young black musicians from over 100 applicants. This elite group emerged as the initial cohort of the ASO’s Talent Development Program (TDP). In 1999, the Azira G. Hill Scholarship was established to provide financial assistance to enable students to have transformative opportunities, including attending highly selective summer programs and receiving private lessons from distinguished instructors. Under her leadership in partnership with Mary Gramling and a dedicated group of supporters, the TDP has flourished and become a model among other arts organizations nationwide to curate diverse musicianship. The TDP has helped nurture nearly 100 young musicians. Many have earned slots at top music schools, such as The Juilliard School, Curtis Institute of Music, Manhattan School of Music and the Peabody Institution and have gone on to greatly excel at careers in orchestras, teaching, and performance. Key to developing these young classical musicians is Azira Hill’s model of mentorship, which goes beyond private lessons and audition preparation to include an avid community of support, transferable skills training and financial assistance. Her vision has been enthusiastically shared and supported every step of the way by many indispensable partners and friends.

Her involvement and affiliations span a wide spectrum of activities, including the following: Founder of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s Talent Development Program, former member of the Center for Puppetry Arts Board, Southeastern Flower Show, Black Women’s Agenda, former member of the Board of Literary Action, St. Joseph Mercy Care, Urban League Guild, and Planned Parenthood. She is a member of Atlanta Quettes, Circle – Lets, Inc., and the Inquirer’s Literary Club. She is a member of Big Bethel A.M.E. Church, a Golden Heritage Life Member of the NAACP, Life Member of the National Association of School Nurses, a charter member of Azalea City (GA) Chapter The Links, Incorporated and a Life Member of the National Council of Negro Women.

The Atlanta Inquirer family has greatly appreciated the warm and lovely Mrs. Azira G. Hill’s friendship and leadership in Atlanta, Georgia for many years. We wish her a wonderful and happy birthday!


Azira Gonzalez Hill, Photo Courtesy of the Hill Family
Azira Gonzalez Hill, Photo Courtesy of the Hill Family
Azira Gonzalez Hill, Photo Courtesy of the Hill Family
Azira Gonzalez Hill, Photo Courtesy of the Hill Family
Mrs. Azira Gonzalez Hill, Photo by John B. Smith, Jr., in August 2010
Mrs. Azira Gonzalez Hill, Photo by John B. Smith, Jr., in August 2010
Mr. and Mrs. Jesse (Azira Gonzalez) Hill, Photo by John B. Smith, Jr., in August 2010
Mr. and Mrs. Jesse (Azira Gonzalez) Hill, Photo by John B. Smith, Jr., in August 2010
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