Celebrating a Woman in Music

To celebrate March’s Women’s History Month and Tau Beta Sigma’s founding, our History & Archives team shares this profile of a composer who was born around the same time that our national organization was.

Joyce Solomon Moorman is an African-American woman composer and music educator who was born on May 11,1946, the same year that Tau Beta Sigma was founded.  She was born in Tuskegee, Alabama to parents Walker Emanuel and May Willie (Winkfield) Solomon.  

She grew up in Columbia, South Carolina and attended segregated public schools through high school.  In spite of that, Moorman earned a bachelors degree from Vassar College in 1968 and a master of arts from Rutgers University in 1971. She went on to earn a second masters of fine arts from Sarah Lawrence College in 1975, and in 1982 she earned her doctorate from Columbia University.

Dr. Moorman taught at the Brooklyn Music School from 1982 until 1993. She also taught at the Borough of Manhattan Community College, St. John’s University, York College, LaGuardia Community College, NYC College and Brooklyn College.

Moorman with Students in her Early Career

As a composer, Moorman’s work “The Soul of Nature” was premiered by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in 1990. She also composed “Race Riot,” a work based on Andy Warhol’s piece of the same name, which premiered in 2000 at the Pennsylvania Academy.  In 2016, the world premier of Cape Coast Castle, which describes The Door of No Return in Ghana, was played by the Richmond County Orchestra.  Her opera, “Elegies for the Fallen” is based on the poetry of Rashidah Ismaili, and is a commemoration of the Soweto Massacre.  She has also written music to accompany poems by Langston Hughes and Maya Angelou.

Moorman Posing with her Composition

Her works have been performed by many musicians, including herself, and she has received many accolades over the years. One includes a jazz study grant that she received from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1976. In 1998 she was the winner of the Vienna Modern Masters Millennium Commission Competition.  To learn more about Dr. Moorman and to listen to some of her compositions, visit her website. Joyce Solomon Moorman is an accomplished composer, musician and educator that persevered through the years and has accomplished great work as a woman in the music field.

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