Catherine Roma Continues Music Ministry in Prisons

August 1, 2016
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UBUNTU Men’s Chorus Releases CD of Spirituals, Gospel and Self-Penned Compositions

Dr. Catherine Roma’s retirement from Wilmington College in 2014 was by no means a harbinger of the end of her commitment to prison education and a music ministry that gained national acclaim over the years.

(PICTURED) Catherine Roma has continued and expanded her work in the prisons since retiring from WC in 2014, as she now conducts three choral groups at Ohio correctional institutions.

Indeed, Roma, emeritus professor of music, is now conducting three choral groups at area prisons. Long known for her work with UMOJA, the Men’s Chorus at Warren Correctional Institution, which is currently on an extended hiatus, she is directing UBUNTU Men’s Chorus at London Correctional, Hope Thru Harmony Women’s Choir at Dayton Correctional and KUJI Men’s Chorus at Marion Correctional.

The Music, Arts, Theater Academy (MATA) — what Roma calls her prison educational program through Wilmington College — was awarded a pair of grants recently from the Ohio Arts Council (OAC): and ArtStart Grant for $3,989 and an $1,850 Capacity Building Grant.

While the OAC ArtStart Grant will go directly toward MATA, part of the Capacity Building Grant will cover expenses for her to attend the National Conference for Higher Education in Prisons this November in Nashville, where she will serve on a panel about choral music in prisons.

The other part allowed her to visit Mary Cohen, who conducts a prison choir in Iowa and whose book, Choral Music in Prisons, will be published later this year. UMOJA Men’s Chorus, founded in 1993 at Warren Correction through Wilmington College, is the oldest such prison choir and appears in the book.

UBUNTU Men’s Chorus released a CD of their work, titled Begin to Love, on Fathers’ Day in June. Recorded over two days last December, the album features the 26-member ensemble performing a combination of traditional spirituals, gospel music, musical theatre and several self-composed pieces.

Themes running through the music include deliverance, determination, refuge, transformation and creative expression.

Begin to Love is available at shops selling recorded music in Yellow Springs, Dayton, Cincinnati and Columbus, and through Roma by sending an $18 check made payable to Wilmington College c/o Catherine Roma, Pyle Center Box 1202, 1870 Quaker Way, Wilmington, OH 45177. All proceeds go to charities in Cincinnati, Dayton and Columbus.

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