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June 11, 2007

State honors professor's work with prison chorus

Cincinnati Enquirer (OH)

Each Thursday morning, a music professor arrives at the Warren Correctional Institution to teach, direct and nurture the voices behind walls. Friday, Catherine Roma, professor of music at Wilmington College, was honored with the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction's Gold Star Award for Service.

The department presented the award to Roma at a ceremony at the Corrections Training Academy in Orien

She was recognized for her work as founder and director of the UMOJA Men's Chorus at Warren Correctional Institution. She has taught at the prison since joining the college's music faculty in 1993. She volunteers to instruct the non-credit, extracurricular music program offered there by Wilmington College.

"Working with this group is incredibly rewarding," Roma said.

The UMOJA chorus, which gets its name from the Swahili word for unity, is composed exclusively of inmates. The group has recorded two compact discs, "Feel Like Going On" in 1996 and "Do It for the Children" in 2000. Proceeds from their sales have gone to local charities.

In 2005, Roma coordinated a live telecast performance of the chorus singing from the prison to the citywide celebration of Martin Luther King Day at Cincinnati Music Hall. Each year, she organizes an MLK Day celebration at Warren Correctional with speakers and performers. She teaches courses at Wilmington College in music and global issues, while directing the College Chorale and other choral groups.

Roma is also the founder and director of MUSE, Cincinnati's Women's Choir and director and co-founder of the Cincinnati Martin Luther King Jr. Day Coalition Choir. Roma is minister of music at St. John's Unitarian Church in Clifton.

"Dr. Roma has remained committed to her choir members throughout the years and arrives every Thursday morning like clockwork," said Wanza Jackson, warden at the institution.

Posted by acapnews at June 11, 2007 9:33 PM