Celebrating 90th birthday of pioneering African American music professor at U Michigan

Posted on: September 24, 2020

“When Willis Patterson returned home to Ann Arbor in 1968 for a teaching job at the University of Michigan, he made history by becoming the first African American faculty member at the renowned School of Music, Theatre & Dance” writes Julie Hinds in Friday’s (9/18) Detroit Free Press. “Patterson made inclusion his goal during his three decades on campus as an accomplished bass singer, educator and activist. The professor emeritus, who’s still going strong, will be celebrated Friday through Sunday at the African American Music Conference, which is doubling as a party of sorts for Patterson’s upcoming 90th birthday. The virtual event, hosted by the University of Michigan’s School of Music, Theatre & Dance, is free and open to the public. Patterson had a stellar career as a vocalist, performing with orchestras and touring the United States and Europe. A Fulbright scholar and winner of the Marian Anderson Award for young singers, he also made his mark in education, first at HBCUs (historically Black colleges or universities) and then at U-M…. Patterson, as a professor and, for 20 years, an associate dean, became a champion for diversity…. Patterson also was an advocate in his hometown.”