In February 2005 Stephen was diagnosed with Colon Cancer, stage 3. Surgery followed, removing a small cantaloupe-sized tumor that was attached to the colon in two places, the right ureter and top of the bladder. The next seven months were consumed with chemotherapy and radiation, and in November he was pronounced cancer free. In April, 2006 he began experiencing lower-back discomfort and after extensive testing learned that the cancer had reoccurred. He was advised late May that surgery was not a possibility at this time because of the numerous occurrences. Stephen has chosen a rigid program of nutrition and supplements rather than chemotherapy and radiation.


STEPHEN RAY TILFORD was born on April 6, 1966 in Lexington, Kentucky to Daniel and Shirley Tilford. Stephen is the middle child, having an older brother, Bradley and a younger sister, Jane Ellen Watkins. From the beginning it was apparent that Stephen was special in so many ways. His artistic abilities and love for music were evident from an early age. At age nine he gave his heart to Jesus, and God reached down and touched him, making him His child. In Stephen's music, God is glorified.

On July 19, 1997 he married Natalie Kerrick--a perfect story in so many ways. In 1999 they moved to Georgetown, Kentucky, where he is presently Associate Professor of Music at Georgetown College. He and Natalie are parents of two precious boys, Colin Nathaniel, four, and Rhys Christopher, two. He is also organist at First Presbyterian Church of Georgetown.


Stephen's early years were spent on a five acre "farm" where he roamed the surrounding acres bringing home relics of animal bones, buried glassware and any other form of nature he could carry. At one time he raised chickens and sold eggs. He was discovered one day out in the barn singing. When asked why, he said, "Chickens lay better when they have music."

Stephen was unique in so many ways. I suppose you could say that he marched to his own drum beat. He taught us that each child is an individual and cannot be approached in the same manner. In addition to piano lessons he also studied oboe, art and was active in youth group and the choir at his church.


Stephen's greatest gift is music and this was evident at an early age--his patience, temperament, and qualities of expressiveness. Many of our friends often remark how fortunate we are to have a son, born of musician parents, who also is a musician. There was never pressure to study music. Music was Stephen's destiny. In his pursuit of music, he has far surpassed his parents in musicianship and in his high level of performance. Stephen has always followed his heart. What a joy that is to us, his parents!


Stephen graduated from Scott County High School (KY) in 1984. After high school he enrolled in The University of Louisville School of Music, where he received a Bachelor of Music Degree in Piano Performance in 1988. He was awarded a Master of Music Degree from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois in 1989. After several years of free-lancing as a private piano teacher, part-time piano instructor at the University of Louisville and Georgetown College, he taught for a year as a sabbatical replacement at Campbellsville University. It was after these years that he began the Doctoral Program at Florida State University where he was awarded the Doctorate of Music Degree in 1999. His teachers along the way were James Streem, David Keiserman, Lee Luvisi and Nathaniel Patch.


Stephen has received many honors during his forty years. Perhaps the greatest was winning Third Prize in The International Piano Competition "Palmo D'Or" in Finale Ligure, Italy, where twenty-four countries were represented. Other honors include Second Place Award in the Stillman-Kelley Piano Competition, sponsored by the National Federation of Music Clubs, and a finalist in the Music Teachers National Association High School Competition in 1984. He has performed at conventions, master classes and played numerous piano recitals in Universities, Colleges and Churches. He has at least two recitals planned this fall. (Watch this web-site for dates and times of these recitals).

As his parents we ask that you join us and all his family in praying for him. Just as he has conquered many of the world's most difficult piano works, we are confident he will, with God's help, be successful in this present challenge.

Thank you so much for your thoughts and prayers.

Daniel & Shirley Tilford