Interview, William Crimm

April 22, 1980

William Crimm was born in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and grew up in St. Louis, Missouri, where he attended predominantly white public schools. Interested in music from a young age, Crimm was accepted into the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, in 1967. He earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees in voice and stayed in Rochester to build his music career. Crimm also earned a master’s degree from the Colgate Divinity School and served as the Minister of Music at the Memorial AME Zion Church. In 1971, he started the William Crimm Institute of Music, dedicated to training musicians of color and highlighting their accomplishments in the community.

In this interview, Crimm discusses racial conditions in 1970s Rochester, noting the employment discrimination and lack of cultural support for black musicians. He calls for an increase in funding for music schools and students of color and hopes “to be remembered for making music the vehicle that bridges all sects, traditions, and ethnic backgrounds.”

Content Tags


  • 1960s
  • 1970s
  • 1980s