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Leading Through Black Excellence APSU: Dr. Gail Robinson-Oturu


Austin Peay State University - APSUClarksville, TN – Dr. Gail M. Robinson-Oturu, professor of voice at Austin Peay State University, has a distinguished record as an educator, performing artist, and scholar. As a singer, her soprano voice has been heard on local, regional, national, and international stages.

Dr. Gail Robinson-Oturu. (APSU)

Dr. Gail Robinson-Oturu. (APSU)

Reviewers have praised her artistry, interpretation, and technique.

A review of her performance with the London Symphony Orchestra stated, “She seemed more than an accomplished performer; she became an elemental force, primal yet infinitely refined. She held her audience rapt.”

Dr. Robinson-Oturu moved to Tennessee in 2005 and served as department chair of music until 2009. She provides leadership to her local communities and to professional organizations. In 2020, she was awarded the Chamber of Commerce Distinguished Faculty Community Service Award.

She served as vice president of Conventions of the National Opera Association and is a member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing. She also served as a national fraternity director of Sigma Alpha Iota, International Music Fraternity, and as president of the Clarksville Community Concert Association, among others. She is a founding board member of the Negro Spiritual Scholarship Foundation.

A native of Washington, D.C., Dr. Robinson-Oturu earned the bachelor’s degree and Master of Music Education (Vocal Emphasis) from Howard University and her Doctor of Philosophy from New York University. She completed the Harvard University School of Education Management Development Program and was a member of the 2007 Class of the Maxine Smith Fellows.

In 1992, Dr. Robinson-Oturu was appointed as a visiting scholar at Harvard University, where she began research on African Americans in mainstream opera in the United States. This research and her subsequent innovations provided inspiration for various projects of national and international scope, including the National Opera Association Legacy Project to help achieve greater racial and ethnic diversity in mainstream opera. Her dissertation, “The Life and Legacy of Todd Duncan: A Biographical Study,” was nominated by New York University and won the National Opera Association (NOA) Outstanding Dissertation in Opera Biennium Award.

Dr. Robinson-Oturu’s work remains the only systematic, comprehensive, and authorized biography of baritone Todd Duncan, the original Porgy of Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess. Mr. Duncan was subsequently inducted into the Kentucky Hall of Fame. Her research and work on violinist and composer Clarence Cameron White inspired the historical marker erected by the state of Tennessee in his birthplace of Clarksville.


Leading Through Black Excellence began as a Black History Month series, presented by the Austin Peay State University African American Employee Council. Throughout the spring, we will continue to highlight examples of “Leading Through Black Excellence,” both on and off our campus. Individuals and organizations were nominated, and we are pleased to share their incredible stories every Wednesday on the APSU website. For more information, please visit our website,




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