In this interview, Clarice LaVerne Thompson discusses her educational and professional path to becoming a visiting professor in Africana Studies and Music Director at Brown University, and founder of RPM Voices of Rhode Island.
Thompson begins by describing her childhood and early education in Jackson, Tennessee, and Yonkers, New York. She talks about briefly attending Elmhurst College in Illinois and dropping out to hold various positions, including one with RCA Records. She explains that profits from a musical she wrote, Song of Sheba, allowed her to go back to college, this time at Lane College in Tennessee. She goes on to explain why she continued her education and pursued a master’s and PhD at the University of Mississippi, graduating as the first Black woman to earn a PhD in music history from the school.
Thompson also discusses being hired at Brown in 2002, teaching, and completing her dissertation at the same time. In particular, she elaborates on her work with Rites and Reason Theatre and Elmo Terry-Morgan. She explains that it was after her contract with Brown ended in 2009 that she established RPM Voices of Rhode Island as a non-profit organization. She ends her interview by detailing her work with the Providence School System teaching music to high school students and developing a music curriculum, as well as her work with RPM Voices.
Central Falls, Rhode Island