ABSTRACT

This article identifies some of the first African American professors of singing to integrate the faculties of notable music programs in the United States. The study examined archival sources on African American musicians, university records, and interviews conducted. Edna C. Williams, Thelma Waide Brown, Sylvia Olden Lee, Willis Patterson, Camilla Williams, Thomas Carey, and William Warfield were found to have made significant contributions as groundbreaking teachers, and their work is discussed. Significantly, a strong correlation exists between the timing of their appointments and the civil rights movement on college campuses at the University of Cincinnati, Indiana University, University of Michigan, and Oklahoma University. This suggests that political action played an influential role in encouraging music departments to include African American voice teachers on their faculties. The study suggests that their previous exclusion and subsequent admission to the academy after social action reinterprets higher music education as a racialized space. It simultaneously reappraises the historical significance of their careers as groundbreaking African American teachers of singing.