Thursday, May 20, 2010

'Capital Outlook,' Tallahassee, Florida on Dr. Mary Roberts: 'Acclaimed concert pianist inspires others'

[Dr. Mary Roberts]

Capital Outlook
Tallahassee, Florida
May 20, 2010
Jaylen Christie
Outlook Staff Writer
“Classical music is regarded by many music lovers as mesmerizing and enchanting. The musicians who are able to perform the harmonies and compositions tend to be fascinating themselves. Dr. Mary Roberts is a classically-trained pianist and retired Florida A& M University music professor. She has been playing the piano since she was 6 years old, and she doesn’t plan on slowing down anytime soon. 'My mother was my first [piano] teacher,' Roberts said. 'She always helped others in the community and in the church. She influenced a lot of musicians in Tallahassee.'

“Roberts is married to retired FAMU mathematics professor Willie Roberts. She began teaching at the university in 1960 and worked under the esteemed Dr. William Foster, FAMU’s director of Bands. 'He was very kindhearted and encouraging,' Roberts said. 'He allowed me to mature as a teacher.' Roberts holds degrees in piano performance from the University of Kansas, Indiana University and Florida State University. She performed as a soloist with the FAMU Symphonic Band under Foster’s direction.

“Her talents and forte were showcased around campus and in meetings of the National Black Caucus, Florida Music Educators Convention, and the College Band Directors National Association. While studying for her doctorate, Roberts performed as a piano soloist with the FSU Symphony Orchestra and inspired others. Former students of hers include many successful professional musicians and music educators, such as Teresa Kemp. Kemp graduated from FAMU in 1971 and taught music at FAMU’s Developmental Research School. 'Whatever I know about music, I learned from Dr. Roberts,' Kemp said.

“In addition to performing classical music, Roberts enjoys playing the music of black composers. She has produced several programs devoted to music composed by African-American women, and she has coordinated FAMU’s annual African-American History concert. 'My love for black composers comes from my mother,' Roberts said.”

“In recognition of her efforts while at FAMU, she received the Teacher of the Year Award and the Teaching Incentive Program Award. Roberts has stayed active since retiring from teaching in 2003. She collaborates frequently with Pam Laws in the performance of Negro spirituals and recently was a judge for the NAACP’s ACT-SO competition. 'Music is a part of who I am,' Roberts said.”

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