In 1997 Mr. James A. Dick, prominent business leader and philanthropist, visits the W.O. Smith School in Nashville. Impressed by their mission of providing low cost music lessons to low income children, he decides to bring the idea back to Knoxville.
Later that year Mr. Dick gathers fellow business leaders, community activists, and music educators and founds The Joy of Music Youth Music School. The School begins operations in the fall of 1998 providing free music lessons to the disadvantaged youth of the Boys of Girls Clubs of Knoxville.
With a volunteer board and one staff member they undertake the mission of providing a quality music education to financially disadvantaged, at-risk youth. The founding board president is F. Michael Combs. The School begins in the Moses Center in space provided by the Boys and Girls Clubs with Anne Marie Begley as the first primary music teacher and coordinator or the music program.