Save the dates for Music in the Black Church, February 17 & 18.
The Willis C. Patterson Our Own Thing Chorale (OOTC) preserves, explores, performs, and educates the community about traditional African American spirituals and contemporary choral and instrumental compositions and/or arrangements by African Americans and other musicians of the diaspora. It also increases opportunities for the exploration and education of this music by offering free lessons to youth through its Instructional Program. August 2022
The Willis C.Patterson Our Own Thing Chorale, established in 1969, is named for its founder and director Willis C. Patterson, an Ann Arbor native and U-M Professor Emeritus. The Chorale has performed extensively in the greater Ann Arbor area, and throughout Michigan and beyond. With a culturally diverse membership with individuals from the greater Ann Arbor area, representing varied careers and a wide range of musical experience, the Chorale is committed to the preservation and performance of traditional African American spirituals as well as contemporary choral compositions written and/or arranged by African American composers and musicians. The Chorale also works to raise funds for the Our Own Thing Instructional Program (OOTIP). These instructional offerings take place in the Community Church of God in Ypsilanti.
Founded in 1968, the Instructional Program provides free instruction in the arts, both vocal and instrumental, rental of musical instruments, and scholarships to area youngsters who would otherwise be unable to afford the opportunity to study music. The Chorale is an outgrowth of the Instructional Program.In the past 46 years, over 1,000 middle and high school students have received the advantages of this opportunity. The Instructional Program currently continues to work with students at all ability levels. Several graduates have become recognized performers, teachers of the arts, and arts professionals at every level both domestically and internationally.
Alice McAllister Tillman is a versatile artist whose experiences have taken her to concert halls and recital stages throughout North America. Her voice has been described as “Exquisite,” “Mesmerizing,” “Magnificent,” “Brilliant” and “Beautiful!”
“Soprano Alice McAllister Tillman, whose soaring voice sent exquisite chills through the air during Duke Ellington’s Sacred Music Concert at Orchestra Hall.” (Mark Stryker, Detroit Free Press)
Alice McAllister Tillman “was accompanied by a harpist as she performed a stirring Schubert’s Ave Maria. The overwhelming opinion is that it will stand out as one of the most impressive parts of the service.” (Kev Geoghegan & Paul Glynn BBC Music News Live) Funeral Service of music icon Aretha Franklin
Alice McAllister Tillman is known for her ability to perform a diverse range of literature spanning many genres. She has been presented in solo recitals that include Art Songs, Operatic Arias, Spirituals, Musical Theater and Jazz. She is frequently engaged in Oratorio and Symphonic presentations. Highlights as a soloist include Bach’s Magnificat, Bach’s Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen, Margaret Bond’s Credo, Adolphus Hailstork’s I Will Lift Mine Eyes, Handel’s Messiah, Haydn’s The Creation, Mozart’s Exsultate Jubilate, Mozart’s Requiem, Garcia’s Requiem, Rossini’s Stabat Mater, Coleridge-Taylor Perkins’ Symphony of the Sphinx premiered by The Detroit Symphony Orchestra and Maestro Thomas Wilkerson, Duke Ellington’s Sacred Music Concert under the baton of David Berger during the 2012 Detroit Jazz Festival, Dave Brubeck’s To Hope with the Brubeck Quartet during the 2013 Detroit Jazz Festival, Adolphus Hailstork’s Earthrise during the Detroit Symphony Orchestra Classical Roots Series under the baton of Maestro Leonard Slatkin, Henry Panion’s Here We Are Maestro Roderick Cox, From Broadway to the Met Livonia Symphony and Maestro Volodymyr Shesiuk, featured artist for the 2013 and 2019 Azalia Hackley Concert presented by the Friends of the Detroit Public Library E. Azalia Hackley Collection. The Hackley Collection highlights the achievements of African Americans in the Performing Arts. Ms. McAllister Tillman was privileged to pay homage to music icon, Aretha Franklin, by performing Schubert’s Ave Maria at Ms. Franklin’s Funeral Service in August 2018.
Alice is a long-standing member of the Award-Winning Brazeal Dennard Chorale and accepted the role of Artistic Director in September of 2015. In her debut season as Artistic Director, Ms. McAllister Tillman had the honor of conducting The Brazeal Dennard Chorale and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in a performance of Roland Carter’s Lift Every Voice and Sing.
Ms. McAllister Tillman accepted the position of Music Director of the Willis Patterson Our Own Thing Chorale in October 2022. Her connection with the Our Own Thing Chorale began when she was an undergraduate student at the University of Michigan. Her association with the Our Own Thing Chorale has been a great source of pride. She looks forward to the legacy of the Our Own Thing Chorale continuing for many years to come!
Ms. McAllister Tillman holds a Master of Music in Vocal Performance, a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance and a State of Michigan Teacher Certification from The University of Michigan School of Music, Theater & Dance. Alice McAllister Tillman has an incredible love of teaching and has been a Voice Instructor at every level including Kindergarten through Post-Graduate Studies.
Ms. McAllister Tillman is the creator and featured solo artist of “Once Upon a December Eve,” a concert presented each December that has become a Holiday Tradition in the Detroit Metropolitan Area.
Alice McAllister Tillman is a featured recording artist on The Second Anthology of Art Songs by Black American Composers, The New Negro Spiritual, Remembering II Significant Spirituals, Reflections and Once Upon a December Eve.
Brian E Buckner is a multiple award-winning composer, arranger, actor, vocal coach, pianist and music director in southeast Michigan. Working predominantly in the world of musical theatre, Mr. Buckner has an endless passion for music of all genres-particularly for replication of vintage stylization-which led him to interest in the Willis C. Patterson Our Own Thing Chorale! Hailing from Houston, Tx where he started in gospel music, the music of the African American tradition has held-and always will hold a special place in his heart. Recent direction credits include Passing Strange (Detroit Public Theatre, Detroit); Blues in the Night (Meadow Brook Theatre, Rochester) August Wilson's Gem of the Ocean (The Detroit Rep, Detroit); The Fantasticks (The Flint Rep, Flint); Gutenberg! The Musical! (The Dio Theatre, Pinckney); Songs for a New World (The Flint Rep, Flint); Follies (Theatre Nova, Ann Arbor); Songs About Stuff (The Flint Rep, Flint) and Rosie the Riveter (Wild Swan Theatre, Ann Arbor)-for which he also served as composer-in addition to being Director of Music for the Episcopal Church of the Incarnation (Ann Arbor) and staff musician for Trinity Episcopal Church (Toledo, OH).
Donna's was born into a musical family. Her grandmother played piano into her late 80's. Her mother received her bachelor and Master of Music degrees from U of M with concentrations in voice, organ, and piano and worked as a musician until she was 85. Donna's mother was her first piano teacher, and her Dad was constantly playing recordings of violin concertos and symphonies.
As a child, Donna spent two months at Interlochen's National Music Camp when she was six. There she studied piano and violin, played in an orchestra for the first time and attended live performances six nights a week! That experience, along with her strong musical roots, set her on a musical trajectory that she has never left.
After high school, Donna studied music at U of M and EMU. She became a tenured music educator in AAPS assigned primarily to instrumental music, but also spent some time in general and choral music positions. Donna loves singing and, among many experiences, has served as the Choral Recording Director for Friends Theological Seminary in Kaimosi, Kenya; a Choir Member and Soloist at Vancouver United Church of Christ in Vancouver, WA; the Chancel Choir President at Hartford Memorial Baptist Church in Detroit; and as a Second Soprano at First Presbyterian Church in Ann Arbor, MI.
LaTonya Woods has enjoyed a portfolio career. Holding a bachelor’s in business administration from Eastern Michigan University, she began her collegiate career at the University of Michigan in the School of Music, Theater, and Dance with a major in viola performance and education. She currently works for the University of Michigan as a senior business systems analyst in the Information and Technology Services department.
As a violinist and violist, she has performed with Grammy award winning artists, spanning the genres of classical, R&B and gospel, including Stevie Wonder, Midori and Marvin Winans. She is featured on recordings with critically acclaimed gospel artists, Donnie McClurkin, Richard Smallwood and has performed with award winning, Detroit based world music ensemble, Musique Noire. She continues to perform throughout the metro Detroit area, has been a member of Dexter Community and Ypsilanti Symphony Orchestras.
A passionate music educator and administrator, she has served as an instructor in the Ann Arbor Public Schools, and on the faculty of the Sphinx (Organization) Preparatory Program and Michigan State University Community Music School of Detroit. In her administrative capacities, she has worked with the Sphinx Organization in a variety of capacities, most recently as the program manager for the LEAD Program.
She currently serves on the boards of the University of Michigan School of Music, Theater and Dance Alumni Association, and the University of Michigan Medical School Institutional Review Board (IRBMED). She is inspired and invigorated by Our Own Thing's mission and community engagement, and is eager to bring her experience and passion to the organization.
2023- 2024 LEADERSHIP
Alice McAllister Tillman, Music Director
Brian E. Buckner, Assistant Music Director and Accompanist
Donna Smith, Instructional Program Director
LaTonya Woods, Instructional Program MSTARS Coordinator
Sharon Vaughters, President
Ronald C Woods, Past President
Janet V. Haynes, Secretary/Treasurer
Willis C. Patterson, Founder and Director Emeritus
c/o Janet V. Haynes, Secretary/Treasurer
P.O. Box 2439
Arbor, MI 48103-2439
The Willis Patterson Our Own Thing Chorale (OOTC) is a 501(c) (3) not-for profit. The Our Own Thing Instructional Program is a branch of OOTC.
All donations are tax deductible as permitted by the Internal Revenue Service.
Willis Patterson Our Own Thing Chorale
PO Box 2439, Ann Arbor 48106-2439
The Willis Patterson Our Own Thing Chorale is a 501)(c)(3) qualified charitable organization. No goods or services were provided in exchange for this donation and your contribution is tax deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law. . the Instructional program is a Branch of OOTC.
The Willis Patterson Our Own Thing Chorale (also known as The Willis C Patterson Our Own Thing Chorale and The Willis C Patterson Our Own Thing Instructional Program) is committed to a policy of equal opportunity for all persons and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, disability, religion, height, weight, formerly incarcerated, or veteran status in employment, educational programs and activities, membership and volunteer leadership. Reasonable accommodation will also be provided to persons with disabilities, to disabled veterans, and to accommodate religious practices.