In Memoriam: Joyce Inez Johnson Bolden, 1933-2023

Joyce Inez Johnson Bolden, a long-time professor at Alcorn State University in Mississippi, died on January 6 at her daughter’s home in Metairie, Louisiana. She was 90 years old.

A native of New Orleans, Dr. Bolden was raised on the campus of Prentiss Normal and Industrial Institute, a college preparatory and junior college institution of higher learning, which was founded by her paternal grandparents. At the age of 15 she began her collegiate education at Fisk University in Nashville and graduated in the spring of 1953, with a bachelor’s degree in music.

Dr. Bolden extended her education and studied music at Harvard University and earned a master’s degree in music at the University of Illinois Champagne-Urbana. She also studied music at Heidelberg University in Germany and earned a Ph.D. in music at Michigan State University. She was the first African American woman to receive a doctorate in music from Michigan State University.

Dr. Bolden’s teaching and professional career began at Utica Junior College in Utica, Missississippi. She and her husband moved to Alcorn State University in 1957. During a 42-year career at Alcorn State, Dr. Bolden served in many capacities including concert choir director, music professor, honors colloquium professor, and chair of the department of fine arts.

After retiring from Alcorn State University in June 1999, Dr. Bolden served as a consultant to several historically Black colleges and universities aiding them in their quest to have their college music programs accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music.

Alcorn State University named its Fine Arts Department Building in her honor on November 18, 2016.

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