Wilmington College, Ohio
Catherine Roma is currently Professor of Music at Wilmington College in Wilmington, Ohio. Through her association at Wilmington, Catherine founded and directs UMOJA Men’s Chorus at the Warren Correctional Institution in Lebanon, Ohio. She is Minister of Music at St. John’s Unitarian Universalist Church in Cincinnati, and was co‐founder and co‐director of the Martin Luther King Chorale. Recently Roma started the UBUNTU Men’s Chorus at Madison Correctional Institution. Roma retired as founder and artistic director of MUSE, Cincinnati’s Women’s Choir this past spring after 30 years.
Talk Title: “Hope for You:” New Spirituals Emerging from Modern Mass Incarceration
This lecture/recital will bring together an analysis of song lyrics and an investigation of musical forms and genres of compositions by men in prison. These songs descend directly from the tradition of slave songs and spirituals. Prof. Roma will be making the case that these “new spirituals” arise out of the lived experience of incarcerated African-American men today. Michelle Alexander in her highly acclaimed book, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, describes mass incarceration of African-American men as the “main racialized system of control” in America today and considers it the continuation of its historical precursors: slavery and Jim Crow.
Professor Roma will be able to share recordings, video footage and transcribed musical scores of original songs written and performed behind prison walls, all of which represent a vivid example of art as refuge and strength in a contemporary struggle for freedom.