About Willie T. Summerville

Willie T. Summerville at the piano

Willie T. Summerville is a native of Crossett, Arkansas, and came to the Champaign-Urbana area in the summer of 1966 as a recent graduate of the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.  He enrolled in the  University of Illinois in June of 1966, and received his Masters Degree in Music Education one year later. He retired from the Champaign-Urbana Schools in 2005, after serving 38½ years in their music departments. On February 16, 2006, Mr. Summerville began his college teaching career  by  working in the College of Education as a Minority Recruiter. He is presently serving as Outreach Coordinator for the Department of African American Studies. For over 5 years, Willie Summerville has taught Afro 498 WS “Harmonizing Select Differences..” and is also an adjunct instructor in the Office of Minority Student Affairs. This course is taught in the Community so that the Campus and Community can unite efforts in promoting better understanding between the two dominant cultures.  On Mondays and Wednesdays, Mr. Summerville conducts music classes for grades pre-k -5, for students in the Canaan Academy of Urbana.

Mr. Summerville served as one of the presenters for the 11th Bi-Annual Black Sacred Music Symposium at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.  He has conducted the Annual Handel’s Messiah Presentation for Champaign County for over 33 Concerts.  He has served as Guest Conductor for the Annual Messiah Presentation in Gibson City, Illinois for at least 10 of their performances; which first began in 1946.  He has conducted their programs since 2007. He has conducted over 30 Performances of Handel’s Messiah in the C-U Community, involving a large segment of the African American Community, along with additional voices from the Campus and Community. Mr. Summerville cooperates with Ms. Tamra Gingold, UHS Orchestra Director, and Ms. Shelly Stearnes, Twin-City Bible Church Orchestra Conductor in utilizing a major string orchestral ensemble for the last 10 performances of the Messiah locally.

Mr. Summerville serves as a mentor, and resource person for many beginning teachers in the C-U Area, and he is the main accompanist for the Urbana Rotary Club.(This Service club recently raised funds to operate and house  health services for the underserved populous in the area.)  Mr. Summerville was recently honored as one of the “Friends of the Mt. Olive Baptist Church,” of Champaign, Illinois at their 98th Church Anniversary.

He was married to the Late Mrs. Valerian Alexander Summerville formerly of North Little Rock, for 47 years.  They were blessed with 5 children, 6 grand children, and one great-grand daughter.