In 1987, Dr. Carl King, professor of music education at East Tennessee State University, founded the East Tennessee Children's Choir. King strove to provide children with a quality musical foundation and education, exposure to the greatest choral repertoire, and an experience in non-competitive team behavior that draws out the best in each student.
Beth Perkinson McCoy was named Music Director for the choir in 1994. Under McCoy's leadership, the Highlands Youth Ensemble was formed to provide high school students with an opportunity to sing in a more advanced ensemble setting. The Chorister choirs were begun for singers in grades 1 through 3. In 2002, the Mountain Empire Children's Choral Academy was formed.
Current Artistic Director Jane DeLoach Morison has been serving as the director of the East Tennessee Children's Choir since 2007 and was named Artistic Director in 2009. Under the direction of Morison, MECCA has significantly expanded. Currently, the program currently serves children and young people in East Tennessee and Southwest Virginia with the newly formed Johnson City and Emory Explorers (grades 1–3), East Tennessee Children's Choir and Emory Virginia Children's Choir (grades 4 and up), Da Capo ensemble (for children's choir singers in grades 7 and up), and Highlands Youth Ensemble (grades 9–12).
The choirs of the Mountain Empire Children's Choral Academy have performed in Hungary, Greece, Ireland, and numerous times in Carnegie Hall. In 2016, the Highlands Youth Ensemble was selected as a performing choir for the American Choral Director's Association Southern Division Conference. The choirs have collaborated with various other performing arts organizations including the Symphony of the Mountains, Johnson City Symphony Orchestra, Voices of the Mountains, ETSU Chorale, Civic Chorale, Milligan University Orchestra and Choirs, and the East Tennessee Ballet Academy. The choirs perform regularly at venues in the community such as Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion, the Niswonger Children's Hospital, and the Johnson City Public Library.
The Mountain Empire Children's Choral Academy is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization.
To read more about the history of MECCA, see below: