Robert L. Morris

Robert L. Morris is a composer, arranger, and conductor known for his work in preserving African American musical traditions. His choral works have been performed nationally and internationally. He served as a choral arranger for jazz icon, Duke Ellington.

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    Robert Morris has received degrees from DePaul University, Indiana University, and the University of Iowa.  His work as an arranger for Duke Ellington led him to become a part of the institute, Jazz: the Rediscovery of African American Authenticity. In his work as a conductor, Morris has led ensembles at Carnegie Hall, Orchestra Hall in Chicago, and Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis. He is a member of ACDA, and has been on the board of Chorus America.

    From 1994-1996, Morris spent time in Cuba, where he served as a consultant for African American religious music. He worked on the Culture and Social Transformation: The Cuban and the African American conference, which helped bring Cuban universities in on the discussion of African American music, and its involvement in churches around Cuba.

    Morris is also the founder and director of the Leigh Morris Chorale, based in the Twin Cities. The Choral performs “informances” which are used to audiences about African American classical music and choral music traditions. His choral works help to highlight gospel and spiritual practices, and have been performed by prolific ensembles such as the Minnesota Chorale, Moses Hogan Singers. Dale Warland Singers, and VocalEssence.

    -Lucy Koukoudian

    This profile was created during the 2023-2024 academic year as part of the Song of America Fellowship Program, a project of the Classic Song Research Initiative between the Hampsong Foundation and the University of Michigan, School of Music, Theatre, and Dance.

    Related Information


    "Singing Justice" Seminar Recital

    (Margaret Bonds, Henry T. Burleigh, Maud Cuney Hare, Adolphus C. Hailstork, Lori Hicks, Hall Johnson, John Rosamond Johnson, Undine Smith Moore, Robert L. Morris, Robert Owens, Rosephanye Powell, Florence Price, Brandon J Spencer and Spiritual)


    View recording

    Heart on the Wall

    (Robert L. Morris, Nkeiru Okoye and Robert Owens)


    How Sweet the Sound

    (Margaret Bonds, Henry T. Burleigh, Maria Thompson Corley, Jacqueline Hairston, Moses Hogan, Hall Johnson, Thomas H. Kerr, Betty Jackson King, Robert L. Morris, Hale Smith, Spiritual and George Walker)


    Sheet Music

    Lyric Suite - Solos for Medium Voice

    Composer(s): Robert Morris

    Song(s): I. Dramatic Declaration: Rockin' Jerusalem!
    II. Gospel Blues: What Shall I Do?
    III. Humoresque: Scandaliz' My Name!
    IV. Lament: This May Be My Las' Time
    V. Juba: Ev'ry Time I Feel the Spirit

    Voice Type: Medium Voice

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