Her license plate reads CRE8JOY. It’s a fitting message from one of the most influential and inspiring women in East Tennessee, Dr. Sharon B. Lord. Dr. Lord has accomplished more than many could in a dozen lifetimes: Ph.D. in psychology, author of many books, professor, deputy assistant Secretary of Defense under President Reagan, business woman, management consultant, motivational speaker, philanthropist, Joy of Music School supporter.

Dr. Lord credits her success, in part, to music. “Music changed my life,” she says, recalling her youth in tiny Williamson, W. Va. Her mother, Claudia Stuart, insisted she and her five siblings take piano lessons. Dr. Lord also played saxophone and oboe in middle school and high school. “It taught me harmony and teamwork. It gave me joy and it gave me confidence. Music is probably the most magical way to empower children and the child in each of us.”

Dr. Lord has been a Joy of Music School supporter since its earliest days, contributing money, benefit auction items, and more. “The School appeals to me because it reaches out to children who might not otherwise be exposed to music in the early stages of life,” she says. “I only wish there were more volunteer teachers, because I know there are more children in our area who could benefit from the Joy of Music School.”

And about that “create joy” license plate: It has appeared on several of her trucks and other vehicles over the years. You could call it her motto. “Music is a wonderful way to waken joy, to stir the spirit of people who get dispirited,” notes Dr. Lord, whose name adorns the all-Steinway piano music suite at Pellissippi State Community College. “It moves our minds, our bodies and our spirits. I think it should be part of everybody’s everyday curriculum.”