(From the Preface) Many budding musicians—even from affluent families with both parents living at home and providing a strong supportive environment, combined with constant encouragement—find it very challenging to earn a PhD and reach the pinnacle of a deanship and professorship at a competitive institution of higher learning in the United States of America. As you read this book you will find that no one informed Willis Patterson of this phenomenon because without having the aforementioned criteria, he accomplished those goals and many more.
The book’s main character begins his life, similar to a diamond in the rough, and over time evolves into a rare gem at maturity. These pages will reveal how Willis Patterson of Ann Arbor, Michigan developed from somewhat of a lost child in the 1930s into a: sophisticated academician (Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration and Supervision from Wayne State University in Detroit, MI); a superior vocal performer; Voice Department Chair, Fulbright Scholar; esteemed Master Voice Teacher; Choral and Glee Club director extraordinaire; University Leader in the recruitment and retention of Minority students (Voice/Performing/Composition); an established Church Choir Director; and Associate Academic Dean of the School of Music at one of America’s finest universities, the University of Michigan.
This book is about a very humble man of significant stature. Although he was motivated and driven to become the best he could be in his quest for excellence—by kicking open the door of opportunity whenever it was presented (audition ready)—he never forgot his family members or hometown acquaintances.
Willis C. Patterson, professor of voice and associate dean, joined the faculty in 1968 after having taught at Southern University (Louisiana) and Virginia State College. Mr. Patterson has concertized extensively in
the U.S. and Europe and has appeared as bass soloist with major American orchestras. He was a Fulbright Fellow and a winner of the Marian Anderson Award for young singers. Mr. Patterson,
who appeared as King Balthazar on NBC-TV in its production of Menotti's opera Amal and the Night Visitors, has been seen professionally in such operas as Gershwin's Porgy and Bess, Beethoven's Fidelio
and Puccini's La Boheme. He has served as president of the National Association of Negro Musicians and as executive secretary of the National Black Music Caucus.