Dr. Emorja Roberson
Sinfonian Gospel Choir Director
Dr. Emorja Roberson is a pianist, conductor, workshop coordinator, composer, arranger and vocalist in world of classical and gospel. In 2016, he debuted “Let’s Just Praise the Lord” with the South Bend Symphony Orchestra, which came from his project, Rejuvenate Me (2015).
Roberson graduated from the University of North Florida with a Bachelor of Music degree in Vocal Performance, where he studied with Krzysztof Biernacki. As a young artist, he held lead roles in Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute), The Consul, The Mikado and La Bohème with the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra and performed as a soloist in Handel’s Messiah.
In October 2016, he recorded solos on Robert Kry’s, Paradiso: Transformation and Transfiguration and Mass for the Oppressed by Emerson Eads. He has premiered Evelyn Simpson Curenton’s “Sweet Lil Jesus” and was featured as the soloist for J.J. Wright’s O Emmanuel with the Notre Dame Children’s Choir. In March 2016, Roberson was casted as Duke Frederick in Roger Steptoe’s world-premiere opera of the Shakespeare’s play, “As You Like It”, under the direction of John Apeitos. Throughout his experience in the Sacred Music Program, Roberson served under the tutelage of Dr. Stephen Lancaster, and has worked with world-renowned soprano, Deborah Voight, Carla Rae Cook, and, J.J. Penna. In 2016, Roberson recorded with Grammy Award Winner, Arturo Sandoval, for the Notre Dame Children’s Choir CD, Christmas at Notre Dame, as a soloist on “Frosty, the Snowman” with Matthew Kelly.
August 2017, Emorja coordinated the Weekend of Worship in DeFuniak Springs, FL for churches of diverse communities, which provided workshops on the liturgical sacred music of the church and the fundamentals of reading music, which concluded with a concert of various genres of music.
As of May 2017, Roberson was coined as the first African-American to graduate with a Master of Sacred Music in Vocal Performance from the University of Notre Dame. Currently, Roberson is a student of Dr. Mark Doerries and is the first African-American student in the Doctor of Musical Arts program to study Choral Conducting with a focus in African-American repertoire. In addition to piloting the Voices of Courage choir at Madison Primary Center, Roberson serves as the Director of Music for Olivet African Methodist Episcopal Church and the Graduate Assistant for the Notre Dame Folk Choir.
January 2018, Roberson’s compositions, “I Need Your Presence” and “Lord, I Am Grateful” were debuted by the South Bend Symphony Orchestra under the batons of Dr. Marvin Curtis and Dr. Alastair Willis. Roberson was the first place winner for the 2018 American Negro Spirituals competition and performed at Severance Hall in Cleveland, OH. In 2019, the South Bend Symphony Orchestra will debuted Roberson’s recently recorded, “God Is My Refuge” and “Trust In The Lord” at the Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration.
As a doctoral student, Roberson hosted the University of Notre Dame’s first Black History Month concert, which featured artists in jazz, classical, and gospel, and included performers: Callie Day, Isaac Cates, J.J. Wright, and Alex Mansour.
In June 2019, he made his national debut on Season 9 of BET’s Sunday Best competition as a top 20 contestant, and in March 2020, his recent composition, “Seek Ye First” from The Evening Musicale (2019), was featured on Sirius XM 64 (Kirk Franklin’s Praise). On November 15, 2019, he served as the choir director for Kathleen Battle’s The Underground Railroad: A Spiritual Journey tour with the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center at the University of Notre Dame. Roberson is the recipient of the 2020 Song of the Year award and the 2020 People’s Choice Award with Independent Gospel Artist Alliance Award. He is the Director of Voices of Faith Gospel Choir and the Founder/Host for Black@ND.