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Willis Patterson

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Willis Charles Patterson (born November 27, 1930) is an American bass-baritone, editor, music arranger, and professor emeritus/longtime Associate Dean of the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance. A Fulbright Scholar and the winner of the Marian Anderson Award, he has performed in opera houses and concert halls internationally. He has served as president of the National Association of Negro Musicians and as executive secretary of the National Black Music Caucus.[1] In 1977, he edited what The New York Times described as a "groundbreaking anthology of black art songs."[2]

Life and career

Born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Patterson was the son of Ed Curtis. He grew up in a poor family in the Northern part of Ann Arbor. His biological parents were not married, and he was raised by his mother and stepfather. His stepfather hauled coal for a living and struggled with alcoholism.[3] He had nine siblings on the Patterson side of the family whom he lived with, in addition to 10 other siblings from his biological father.[3] Willis is a graduate of Ann Arbor High School, the University of Michigan (BM in 1958 and MM in 1959), and Wayne State University (Doctorate of Music).[1][3] A Fulbright Scholarship enabled him to pursue studies in opera and lieder in Germany for a year and a half, and he also attended classes in opera at the Manhattan School of Music. Prior to joining the voice faculty at the University of Michigan in 1968, Willis served on the music faculties of Virginia State College and Southern University.[1] From 1969 until 1975, he was the music director of the University of Michigan Men's Glee Club.[4]

Selected publications and recordings

  • The New Negro Spiritual Collection (2002) OCLC 51238724
  • The Unlikely Saga of a Singer from Ann Arbor (2015) OCLC 940824661
  • Art Songs by Black American Composers (1981) OCLC 49870716
  • The Second Anthology of Art Songs by African American Composers (2002) OCLC 806491244
  • Spirituals (1991) OCLC 466378527
  • Amazing Grace (1991) OCLC 1088682872


  1. ^ a b c Darryl Glenn Nettles (2003). African American Concert Singers Before 1950. McFarland. pp. 131–132. ISBN 9780786414673.
  2. ^ Cori Ellison (February 14, 1999). "Music; The Black Art Song: A Forgotten Repertory". The New York Times.
  3. ^ a b c "AACHM Oral History: Willis Patterson". AACHM Oral History. September 21, 2013. Retrieved April 3, 2024.
  4. ^ "A formal tribute to Duey". The Michigan Daily. March 30, 1969. Retrieved September 10, 2013.
This page was last edited on 3 April 2024, at 13:15
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