Professor of Music
Gospel Choir Director
Joan Rucker Hillsman, a native of Anderson, SC, received her bachelor and master of music education degrees from Howard University, Washington, DC. Her master's thesis was entitled, "Teaching Music to Children with Hearing Impairments." She studied on the Doctor of Music Arts program at Catholic University of America, and earned a PhD from the Union Institute, Cincinnati, OH Her dissertation was entitled, "Sequential Instructional Plans for Administering Gospel Music Lessons in the Classroom." She is an Afro-American music historian and acclaimed lecturer, demonstrator, performer, and composer of gospel and other forms of music.
Dr. Hillsman served as gospel recording consultant working with the late Mancel "Speedy" Warwick (father of Dionne Warwick), screening and assisting new recording artists in New York. She retired from the DC public schools with 32 years of service as vocal music instructor, assistant director of music, and acting director of music for the system. She assisted in the development of numerous instructional documents that were used throughout the school system. She served as the DC public schools' first African Awareness Chairperson. She is the author of several books, and serves as church music administrator, minister of music, and music staff member for churches throughout the Washington, DC, area and other cities.
Dr. Hillsman's service awards and accolades are too numerous to mention. She is listed in "Who's Who Among Blacks" in Metropolitan Washington, DC (Black Urban League) and the Sterling Who's Who. She holds the "Key To The City of Detroit, Michigan" (bestowed to authors by the late Mayor Coleman Young), and was honored for her project, "Washington Is A Capital City," by Mayor Marion Barry, which culminated in an honor, "Joan Hillsman Day In The Nation's Capital."
Dr. Hillsman has served on college boards and community and professional arts steering committees. She is the national scholarship chairperson for the Gospel Music Workshop of America Inc., the Rev. James Cleveland - Founder, Dean Robert M. Simmons - Academic Division. She has done extensive work in the field of African American music, consulting with Professor Emeritus Eileen Southern before retirement at Harvard University.
Dr. Hillsman has traveled extensively to places such as Jerusalem, Paris, London, Spain, and West Africa (Dakar, Senegal, and Gambia). Dr. Hillsman is the former radio show host of her program, "Educational Gospel Music Spotlight." She is currently professor of music at Bowie State University, where she directs the Bowie State Gospel Choir.
Office: MLK Communication Arts Bldg. RM 280