WOCAP announces 11th Shirley Verrett Award winner

aerial view of U-M's central campus in spring time.

The University of Michigan Women of Color in the Academy Project will present its 11th annual Shirley Verrett Award to Amy Ku’uleialoha Stillman for her exemplary leadership and advocacy on behalf of diverse students.

Stillman has nurtured students through her teachings about the meaning of music, dance and the special language that weaves through the movements and the sound.

An award ceremony is set for 5:30 p.m. May 4 at the Lizzie and Johnathan Tisch Apse in the U-M Museum of Art to honor Stillman. The event is free and open to the public. Registration is requested.

Stillman is an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor, director of the Native American Studies Program, and a former director of Asian/Pacific Islander American Studies Program in LSA’s Department of American Culture.

A recipient of the Harold R. Johnson Diversity Service Award in 2002, Stillman is also affiliated with the Center for World Performance Studies, is a professor of American culture in LSA and a professor of musicology in the School of Music, Theatre & Dance. She holds Bachelor of Music and master’s degree in ethnomusicology from the University of Hawai’i at Manoa, and a master’s and Ph.D. in musicology from Harvard University.

Stillman’s courses include “Introduction to Asian American and Pacific Islander Music” and “Hula,” which showcases students’ performance of traditional hula at Asian-American student-organized events.

“Hula connects artists, whether they are professionals or undergraduate students, to the poetry that serenades in the air and all beings in the natural world,” Stillman said.



The Shirley Verrett Award was created in 2011 by the Office of the Senior Vice Provost in honor of the late U-M professor Shirley Verrett, and is administered by WOCAP and supported by SMTD, UMMA and the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

Verrett was a James Earl Jones Distinguished University Professor of Voice at SMTD and an internationally acclaimed opera singer with more than 40 roles during her four-decade career. She was one of the pioneering leaders in the generation of Black opera singers, and her legacy continues to pave the way for female artists from diverse backgrounds.

This year’s award ceremony will include a special guest performance by Marcía Porter, an award-winning soprano and professor of voice at Florida State University who is a cousin and former student of Verrett’s.

There also will be a special performance and remarks from several of Stillman’s students, including Wren Palmer, Lopaka O’Connor and Adelle Victor.

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