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Swanson Memorial Scholarship for the Performing Arts established at CRCF

Mon, Apr 3rd 2023 10:00 am

Carroll Swanson’s long career in music took her across the world, but her roots in Olean led her to establish a scholarship for musically inclined student sin the Olean area.

Swanson, perhaps better known as “Lady Diamond Dust,” grew up in Olean and graduated from Olean High School in 1958 before her talent on the piano led to being signed by the Robert Haugh Talent Agency in New York City.

She would go on to perform in mainstream hotels and lounges across the country and later, she would play on the Holland-American Cruise Ship Line, Love Boat and a number of other cruise lines. She worked for over 15 years as an entertainer in Las Vegas, NV.

Locally, Swanson was known for playing favorite melodies at the Century Manor piano bar after she returned to the area in 2002 when her mother fell ill.

Her music career followed in the footsteps of her father, Brad Swanson, an organist and RCA recording artist who appeared twice daily at the Capitol Hill Restaurant in Olean.

Outside of performing, one of Swanson’s passions was sharing her love for the piano through teaching.

The Carroll Swanson Memorial Scholarship Fund for the Performing Arts, established at the Cattaraugus Region Community Foundation through a bequest from Swanson, will continue Swanson’s love for supporting music students by providing scholarships for students at Allegany-Limestone, Olean and Portville who have participated in a school music program.

Beginning in 2024, the scholarship will be available to students in each district. Applicants will be required to include recommendations from their music instructors.

Since she returned to the area in 2002, Swanson spent much of her time teaching piano to area residents.

Even after she had to stop performing publicly due to an autoimmune disorder in 2016, Swanson said she played piano every day and continued to teach in an interview with the Olean Times Herald in 2017.

The Swanson scholarship will support students who share Lady Diamond Dust’s love for music and performance for many years to come, said CRCF Executive Director Karen Niemic Buchheit.

“Music was such a huge part of Carroll Swanson’s life that it is only fitting her legacy be carried on through this scholarship fund,” said Buchheit. “The performing arts can play such an important role for our youth, so to support area students that are passionate about music and performance in this way seems like a perfect tribute to Swanson’s life.”

Donations can be made to the Carroll Swanson Memorial Scholarship Fund for the Performing Arts at the Cattaraugus Region Community Foundation, 301 N. Union St., Suite 203, Olean, NY 14760 or online at cattfoundation.org.

The Cattaraugus Region Community Foundation is the area’s supportive, responsive, and trusted community foundation. Established in 1994, CRCF is growing good by connecting donors to the causes they care about most in the region. Grants from the foundation support many areas, including education, scholarships, health care, the arts, community development, human service, and youth development. To learn more, call (716) 301-CRCF (2723), email [email protected], or visit online at www.cattfoundation.org. CRCF is also on Facebook (facebook.com/cattfoundation) and Twitter (@CattFoundation).