ABINGDON, Va. — Artist, singer, horsewoman and healer Alicia Windsong Diamond wears a coat of many colors and currently also wears the sash and crown of Ms. Virginia Senior America.
A resident of Abingdon, Diamond, 66, has had a richly colored life. She grew up in Bronxville, New York, and had the whisperings at an early age of those things that would become her passions. A shy girl, she often was content to sit quietly and draw pictures of nature and of course, every little girl’s love, horses.
Diamond cultivated her creative focus and earned her bachelor’s degree in art at Central Connecticut State College and a master’s degree in education and communication from Western Connecticut State College. She taught art for years but disliked the administrative aspect of the job.
After taking a few voice classes, Diamond shifted her creative focus to singing. Before long, she was performing operas, accompanied by singers from the prestigious Metropolitan Opera. She even spent time studying opera at the Julliard School.
As much as she enjoyed performing, Diamond soon found that the rehearsals and performances required for a career in opera were too strenuous. She moved south to Virginia Beach and developed a unique healing practice that incorporated her studies in art and music. In addition to teaching and lecturing, she became a licensed massage therapist, a Reiki II practitioner, a licensed minister for spiritual counseling, and was certified in family counseling.
“When I was teaching art, I discovered the kids responded differently to the colors that I wore,” Diamond noted. “So I started looking at the influence of color on behavior, and when I studied voice I found a connection between the spectrum and musical scale. So I started researching those two, and eventually I migrated to developing some artwork and some styles of singing that have therapeutic benefit.”
As Diamond pieced together this tapestry of art, music and healing, she found that what she was doing with healing was profoundly different. By fusing light and sound, she developed a therapy through which she “uses an operatically trained voice to create sounds that shape energy.”
“She is an amazingly gifted person,” said Aimee Bennett, a friend. “She has such an amazing view of everything, in a holistic sense. Everything for her is kind of interconnected and starts out small and ends up very big. She is just an amazing person that is almost a force of nature.”
Soon, Diamond felt her soul yearning for the wilderness, and she felt the tug of her old love, horses. She moved to South Dakota, where she started a therapeutic riding program through which she was able to use the palette of her professions to help others. She also started a program called Guide Rides for the Blind, which enabled blind people to ride horses in a safe environment. After some time in New Mexico running a therapeutic riding program, ultimately Diamond and her horses ended up in Abingdon.
“It was really a dream come true for me to have had this time with horses,” Diamond said with a warm smile. “I’m not really active with them to that level anymore, but to have had that experience, considering it was something I’ve always wanted to do, was just amazing.”
When Diamond discovered the Ms. Senior America program while casually browsing the internet, it piqued her interest. Participants must be at least 60 years old to enter the competition, which is designed honor women who have reached the “Age of Elegance.”
“I thought, what the heck,” Diamond said with a laugh.
To her surprise, she was named Ms. Virginia Senior America — the first from Southwest Virginia. The beauty of the competition was that Diamond got to dive into her closet of beautiful evening gowns that had been gathering dust in her closet since she quit singing opera. She also got to wear pieces she designed and made herself, as along with acrylic and watercolors, Diamond paints dyes on silks and makes clothing and wall hangings.
“I think it’s amazing that these women in Alicia’s age range will go out and get out of their comfort zone and do something like this,” said Toni Vaughn, a longtime friend. “Alicia knows how to carry herself, and that lady knows beauty. She is very resourceful and intelligent and has great awareness about a lot of things that a lot of people don’t even consider.”
Diamond will attend the national competition for Ms. Senior America in Atlantic City in October.
“The pageant was a really beautiful experience, and I really just wanted everybody to have a good time and do their best and feel good about themselves,” Diamond said. “I felt really good to be appreciated and appreciating women that were dressed and being elegant and showing who they are. I knew I saved all those dresses for a reason.”